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I wrote my first book in 30 days. Here are 11 tips and tricks to writing a novel.

I wrote my first novel in just one month. It was extremely challenging but I'm glad I did it.

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

In addition to working at Insider as an entertainment editor, this year I also became a published author.

My debut novel, "This Way Out," was published around the world on July 1.

It is the story of Amar, a British-Bangladeshi man who gets engaged to his partner, Joshua, and must tell his devout Muslim family that not only is he gay, but he's marrying a white man. Amar's confession sets off a chain of dramatic events — both heartbreaking and hilarious — as he navigates his family's disapproval of his sexuality, his continued grief over his mother, and a meddling future mother-in-law.

I wrote the first draft of "This Way Out" in one month, between mid-June and July 2020. It was a challenge, to say the least, but ultimately, I'm glad I pushed myself to write it so quickly. Or it might still only exist on my computer.

Here are my top tips if you want to turbo-boost your writing career and finish your manuscript, too.

Clear your mind of all distractions so you can focus on your writing.

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

The idea for "This Way Out" first came to me in 2019, and while I wrote two or three very rough chapters at the time, I quickly abandoned the novel amid my day job and a mammoth Netflix queue.

I returned to the story a year later when London, much like the rest of the world, was locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

This time, I was determined not to abandon the book again. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. So, I set myself a 30-day deadline to write the whole manuscript, including rewriting the few chapters I had already written a year before.

But before that, I needed to be in the right frame of mind.

I had reached Netflix saturation point by the time I began writing. I'd binged all of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" and "Vikings," and my brain was yearning for more stimulation. Thankfully I had just the thing for it.

Get all the distractions out of your system before you sit down to write. Finish that show or gardening project, and go into your 30-day writing challenge focused and ready.

Treat your hobby like it's your job.

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

So, you're ready to start writing your book. What next?

I was super disciplined about my writing time over the 30 days I wrote "This Way Out."

I treated writing the book as if it was my job. After all, I considered it an investment in myself, and to get the best possible outcome — a published book! — I needed to put in the effort.

I made sure I sat at my desk each day and did some writing. If you have a day job, that can be hard but think about setting some time aside early in the morning before work if you're a morning person, or in the evening if you're a night owl.

For me, it was a combination of both. I blocked out a couple of hours each morning, around 7 a.m., and another two hours each evening, at around 8 p.m., for uninterrupted writing.

You may need to experiment with writing at different times of the day to figure out what works for you. I found that I was less productive during the daytime and easily distracted by household chores and my dog, so early mornings and after dinner worked really well.

Just remember: Consistency is key. Make sure you budget time each and every day, whatever time that may be.

Write what you love. Don't pander to industry trends.

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

While promoting "This Way Out," a lot of people have asked how I came up with the idea for my book and remarked something along the lines of, "I'd love to write a book but I don't know what I would write about."

My advice is to write the book you want to write, not the book that you think you should write. 

It can be demoralizing, particularly for authors of color, to see the same types of books — "Gone Girl"-esque thrillers, for example — dominate The New York Times bestseller list, but that shouldn't deter you from writing the book that is in your heart. (And if you want to write a "Gone Girl"-esque thriller, then go for it!)

"This Way Out" is a hugely personal story to me as it incorporates some of my own lived experiences as a gay, nonwhite Muslim man. It was a story I felt compelled to write because I'd never really seen myself represented in fiction before.

Is there a story you feel compelled to tell? That's the story you should write.

In my experience, the more passion and heart you can imbue into your novel, the more motivated you are to write every day, and the easier it will be. 

Because I felt so deeply about Amar's story and my cast of characters, there were days when the words just poured out of me onto the page.

And remember, you'll probably have to live with this story for a long time, so you want to  love it. From the first draft to publication, I've been immersed in all things "This Way Out" for two years.

Write a synopsis for your novel and work backward.

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

In writing, there are "plotters," who plot out their novel, and "pantsers," who simply start writing with no roadmap and see where their words take them.

There's no right or wrong way to write a book, but I'm someone that likes to be highly organized when I take on a project, and the thought of writing a book without a general roadmap would be overwhelming.

In order to give myself the best chance at success, I like to get organized before I start writing, and that means writing a synopsis of my novel first. A synopsis is a general overview of your story — beginning, middle, and end.

Most authors will have to write a synopsis when seeking representation from a literary agent, but it can serve the dual purpose of acting as a roadmap that you can always refer back to. So, instead of writing it after you write your book, I find it super helpful to write it first.

If you want synopsis inspiration, here is one about a famous boy wizard.

Break down your story, chapter by chapter.

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

Another highly organized way to tackle your novel is to outline the beats of your story by chapter.

After writing my synopsis, I then break that down into a more detailed plan, noting down the key events and main characters in each chapter.

You can do this in a spreadsheet or even just by making a table in a Google Doc or Word.

Like your synopsis, this is something you can always come back to for guidance and will help you keep your story on track.

A chapter breakdown is also useful for helping keep track of how many words you need to write. If a standard novel is around 70,000 to 75,000 words and you have plotted out 27 chapters, mathematically, you might aim to write roughly 2,500 to 3,000 words per chapter. 

Make sure you have a comfortable workspace.

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

Writing may not be the most physically taxing task, but you're going to be spending a lot of time on your manuscript, so you want to be comfortable.

When I first started writing "This Way Out," I didn't have a desk. I wrote in bed, on the couch, or at the kitchen table. After getting halfway through the book, I started to get antsy. Writing in bed would lead to a nap, and the couch would give way to the temptation of turning on the television.

So, I hit up IKEA for a desk and super comfortable ochre chair. My productivity rapidly improved.

Having a dedicated and comfortable writing space can make the world of difference. It's a space to focus and stay motivated.

When you sit down, you know you're there to work, and those other spaces — the bed or sofa — can go back to being for leisure when you're done for the day.

Have a general idea of how many words you will write each day.

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

Books are long, and when you're climbing the proverbial Everest of writing one, it can feel like you'll never make it to that magic number, whether it's 70,000, 80,000, or even 100,000 words.

With "This Way Out," I aimed for a chapter a day, with each chapter containing roughly 2,500 to 3,000 words.

When I'm drafting, I keep myself motivated by logging my word count on a piece of paper and sticking it to the wall in front of my desk. It shows me how far I've come and how much more I have to do.

There's a real sense of achievement each day when I cross off the previous word count and log the new, higher one.

Be kind to yourself. Don't beat yourself up if you write less than intended.

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

Conversely, we are all human. Not every day is going to be an amazing writing day.

Writing "This Way Out," there were some days I didn't write 2,500 to 3,000 words and I despaired that I'd never finish the manuscript. I even joked to friends that maybe I should just copy and paste excerpts from Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall" to make up the word count. (Don't do that.)

Don't beat yourself up if you have one bad day. Just stay consistent and sit back at your desk the next day.

It's OK to write less some days because there will be other days when you end up writing a lot more.

Allow yourself a break and be kind to yourself.

You don't have to rigidly stick to your plan. Take creative detours if your work calls for it.

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

Just because you've written a synopsis and chapter breakdown doesn't mean that your book is now set in stone. 

Give yourself the freedom to chop and change things, and allow the story to take you down different paths.

I had a eureka moment writing a scene midway through "This Way Out." A character did something that I hadn't plotted initially, but their actions just  made sense at that point in the story.

Even as I wrote the scene, I was surprised by how their actions deviated from my initial plan, but it really worked. That scene ended up being hugely pivotal to moving the plot forward and adding extra tension to the book.

Know when you're done and it's time to write "the end."

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

There is nothing quite like the feeling of finally finishing your manuscript and being able to write, "The end."

Sometimes, that point may come sooner or later than intended, however. Remember: You don't have to be rigid about your roadmap.

As you write, you may feel there is another chapter to add, or you may feel that a chapter is no longer needed and end up wrapping up your story sooner than planned.

I had the latter experience writing "This Way Out." As I reached the end of the book, I still had another chapter planned, but the scenes I was writing at the time felt like a fitting end. So, I went with my gut and ended it there. 

Don't force yourself to write more if you feel like you're done. Go with your gut instinct. The story will tell you when it's done.

Let your book breathe before diving back into it.

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

You've finished writing your book. Hurrah! But, what now?

The first draft is just the beginning. You might write a second draft yourself, tightening up the story and adding in more detail, or you might work on it with a critique partner , professional editor, or literary agent.

Before you go back to your book, give yourself a little time away from it. Take a week, or longer. Catch up with your housework, "Real Housewives" or with your friends.

A little bit of distance from your work will help you come back to it fresh and motivated.

Once you're ready, I recommend printing out the manuscript (it feels great to hold it in your hands!), sitting down on the sofa and simply reading it, not as an author, but as a reader. Absorb the story from the reader's perspective.

Then read it again. This time, maybe you'll make some notes in the margins or underline sentences to change.

Now you're ready for your second draft.

The reward is worth the hard work.

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

Writing a book isn't easy. If you manage to complete your manuscript — whether it's in 30 days or longer — be proud of your achievement. Not everyone has the discipline and resilience to write that many words.

Unfortunately, the publishing industry is a tough nut to crack, and it's notoriously difficult to get published by a major publishing house.

If you do get a publishing deal, congratulations. Savor the moment. 

Finally holding my book in my hands, and being able to share Amar's story with the world, made all the hard work worth it.

"This Way Out" is available now .

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more .

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

how to write a book in 30 days pdf

How to Write A Book in 30 Days (Even if You’ve Never Written Anything Before)

It’s almost time everyone! Yes, it’s almost Halloween, and you know what that means. One last hurrah before it’s time to hunker down with your laptop, typewriter, or pen and paper and get to writing for NaNoWriMo . If you’re new to NaNoWriMo, here’s what you need to know. Each year on November 1, NaNoWriMo challenges you to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. The community-powered event has been going strong since 1999, and whether you’re a seasoned writer or just trying to write something for the first time, NaNoWriMo is an excellent challenge with lots of community support.

I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2012. Having a deadline always makes me write faster. I haven’t always successfully completed the challenge, but I always enjoy trying. Since I’ve been doing this for almost ten years, I’ve learned a little bit about what helps (and what doesn’t). And I’m happy to share with you my secrets for getting a bunch of writing done in a short amount of time.

One big thing I want to point out before I get into my tips? Remember that NaNoWriMo is just one way out of many that you can set deadlines for yourself. Yes, this is a time of the year where a whole bunch of people are committing to writing more, but you can absolutely do this on your own (or with others, if you can find the people!) at any time. So whether you’re getting ready for a busy November, or just trying to write quickly for your own deadline, here are my tips for writing a book in 30 days, even if you’ve never written anything before.

1. Tell People About It

I’m a writer. But it’s really hard for me to tell people that. Why? I don’t know. It sounds pretentious, I guess. I really hate telling people that I’m a writer. Even more than that, I hate telling people about what I’m writing. I always worry that the more I talk about writing something, the less I’ll actually want to write about it. Like telling people about the writing will scare it away.

But look. Listen. If you’re really dedicated to getting something done in 30 days, you’re going to have to tell people about it. First of all, by letting people know about your goals, you’re setting up accountability. You’re less likely to give up on your writing goals if you know other people know about them. Like, it’s okay to let yourself down, but you can’t let other people down.

You also have to tell people about your 30-day writing goal because, guess what? If you’re writing 50,000 words in 30 days, that’s going to take up a lot of time. People are going to notice. They’re going to wonder where you are. When they try to make plans with you, you can make up an excuse or you can tell them the truth: You can’t leave your house because you’re 5,000 words behind your goal, so you’ve got to get serious.

2. Quantity Over Quality

Yes, of course you want your writing to be good, but you’re not looking to create a finished draft a the end of 30 days. You’re just trying to get something down. For the next 30 days, keep your writing hat on and your editing hat far, far away. In fact, throw your editing hat out of the window. If you lose it and you have to buy a new one in December, so be it. For now, you’re not allowed to critique or change your writing. Just write.

On that note, I know everyone writes differently, but for me, it’s best if I just write whatever I feel like writing rather than trying to write the whole thing in order. You’ll write more if you’re excited about what you’re writing, so pick what part of the story you feel like writing, and go to town. If the thought of writing everything out of order feels like chaos, I suggest coming into this 30 day writing period with a strong outline so you can pick up wherever you want in the story and know where it fits.

3. Stop Writing When You’re in the Middle of Something

This one is kind of related to writing things out of order, because this is also all about writing what excites you. When you’re in the middle of writing something and you know where it’s going, try to stop half way through and save the rest for your next writing session. Why? Because you’ll keep thinking about it until your next writing session, and when you sit down to write again, you’ll know exactly where to start.

You know all those times you sit down to write and end up staring at your computer trying to find the words? Yeah, this is basically a foolproof way to avoid all that wasted time and anxiety.

4. Reward Yourself With Snacks

This one might seem obvious, but trust me. You might forget. Please take snack breaks while you’re writing. And hydrate too. Sometimes when you’re really in the zone, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. Invest in some good writing snacks that are healthy and easy to eat while typing away.

Or, even better, when you’ve finished a great writing session, take a step away from your computer screen and sit down at the table to reward yourself with a snack. Yes, you’re going to need a lot of time to write, but you’ve also got to take breaks to avoid burnout. On that note, don’t forget to get plenty of rest too!

5. Commit to Writing Sprints and Mini-Deadlines

Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is one big deadline. To get there without getting overwhelmed, you’ll want to break it down to smaller, easier-to-reach mini-deadlines. Try to set a goal for number of words per day, or even per writing session, and try to stick to that number so you don’t fall behind.

Writing sprints are another way to set very small mini-deadlines. I usually set a timer to 20 minutes, write non-stop for the full 20 minutes, and then reward myself with a short break after. You might have hours of writing scheduled for one day, but if you break it down into short 20 minute sprints with breaks in between them, writing for those small blocks of time feels much more attainable.

6. Find Other People to Write With

This may or may not be something that helps you. Everyone works differently. But for me, finding a community of writers who are also trying to get a lot of writing done has been helpful. You can check out the NaNoWriMo website to find local writing sprints to join if you want to surround yourself with other people who are writing. Or if you’d prefer to stay online and socially distanced, there are so many writing communities you can join online for support and for community writing sprints. Writing with other people has been a game-changer for me because yes, it creates accountability, but I also love how supportive writers are of each other (disclaimer: usually). Writing is so solitary most of the time. I love when I get to connect with other people who are just as passionate about writing as I am.

7. Keep Reading

Okay, you’re doing a lot of writing. You might feel like you don’t have time to do anything else. But trust me on this one. Keep reading. Reading makes you a better writer and it will inspire you. Find time to keep writing. Use it as a way to relax after a long day of getting your own book done. Read stuff that’s like what you’re writing if you want. Or if you need to take a step away from your work entirely, pick up something that has nothing to do what you’re writing. Allow yourself to escape your own head for a little bit and enter into another writer’s world.

8. Visualize How You’ll Feel When It’s Done

This is advice that works for basically anything difficult you’re trying to finish. You’re trying to write a whole book in 30 days. That’s so much! But you can do it. How do I know? Because I’ve always visualized what it’s going to look like when you’re done.

You can do this too. When you’re in the middle of doing something hard, it can feel impossible. But the fact of the matter is, it’s going to get done because you’ve dedicated yourself to doing it. In moments where it feels impossible, just remember how great it’s going to feel when you make it to that 50,000th word.

You’ve already committed to doing this. You’re going to do it. I believe in you!

If you need more inspiration, here are 8 of the best books to prep for NaNoWriMo . And if you want to help inspire the other writers in your life, here are 15 gifts for NaNoWriMo writers . Finally, whenever you think it can’t be done, here are 9 books that started as NaNoWriMos .

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How to Write a High-Quality eBook in 30 Days

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What if, 30 days from now, you had a finished, well-crafted eBook sitting on your hard drive, ready to distribute and sell?

That might sound next-to-impossible to you, but it’s not.

Every November, over 200,000 people worldwide take part in NaNoWriMo — “(inter)National Novel Writing Month”.

NaNoWriMo participants aim to write 50,000 words during the month, and tens of thousands of them manage to do it.

If those writers can do that, you can write a 20,000 word ebook in a month . Right?

And I am absolutely not talking about some scrappy, thrown-together document. You’ll have more than enough time to properly plan, organize, and edit your eBook as well.

Think I’m pulling your leg?

Here’s how to do it:

Pick your topic (Days 1–2)

Maybe you’ve got an idea in mind already: a book you’d really love to write.

Go ahead and write that idea down, and then store it in a safe place.

Leave it there for the next 30 days.

Yep, seriously. You’d probably have a great time writing it … but chances are, it’s not what your audience is looking for , so it’s not going to sell.

A great ebook idea needs to be:

Ask your audience what they want, and give them a few possibilities to choose from.

You’ve only got two days here, so you won’t have time for a full-blown survey — but you can tweet out a question, or put up a thread on your Facebook page.

Be prepared to be surprised!

Once you’ve got a solid idea, you can …

Create an outline (Days 3–4)

Your outline is your roadmap.

It lays out the territory ahead, and lets you spot any tricky patches before you’re half-way through the first draft.

There’s no one “right” way to outline, but one or more of these might work well for you:

#1: Draw a mindmap. Put your topic or ebook title in the centre and start adding ideas to it as they occur to you. Use lines or arrows to create connections. At this stage, put everything down, however big or small — you can tidy the entire thing up later.

#2: Work backwards. Start at the end: what do you want your reader to be able to accomplish once they’ve finished your ebook? Then take a step back — what will they need to know before they can do that? And what about before that ?

#3: Write a list. If you’re already extremely familiar with your topic, you’ve probably got an outline in your head. Start writing a list: what chapters or major sections will your ebook need? Once you’ve got the big pieces in place, write a list of 3–5 key points for each chapter/section.

#4: Examine other eBooks and books. Look through several chapter lists to see what topics appear in almost every book. Is there anything that you’re missing from your outline?

At this stage, it’s worth considering whether each chapter (or each section) could have a consistent structure.

This will make the writing process much easier and faster: you’ll have fewer decisions to make.

For instance, your chapters could follow a simple pattern like this:

Once you have a clear outline and, if possible, a structure in place, it’s time to …

Start writing (Days 5–25)

This is where the bulk of your time will be spent: 20 of your 30 days.

If you’re aiming for a 20,000 word ebook (around 80-100 pages, assuming you’re including a few images) then that breaks down to writing 1,000 words a day.

Yep, that’s a sizeable commitment –- but, the trade-off is, you’re going to get your ebook done within a month , instead of having it drag on for a year or more.

Here’s a few tips to speed up your writing and get to 1000 words a day:

Aim to write every day for these 20 days — even if you only manage a couple of hundred words on some days.

The more you make writing a habit, the easier it becomes.

But you’re not done yet. You still need to …

Redraft your eBook (Days 26–28)

Ideally, you’d put your eBook aside for a while before revising it — but you’ve only got a few days left.

So, to see your eBook with fresh eyes, print it out — or transfer it onto your e-reader.

Read through the whole thing in one go, and make a note of:

At this stage, don’t agonize over every word.

Obviously, fix any glaring typos or mistakes that you spot, but avoid getting too bogged down.

Spend these three days focusing on cuts, re-ordering and additions .

This might mean cutting out unnecessary tangents, juggling sections or paragraphs around, and adding in any hyperlinks and quotes that you didn’t have time to look up earlier.

At this point, your ebook might look finished.

But there are two days left, and you’ve still got time to …

Make final changes (Days 29–30)

These two final days can turn your eBook into a professionally finished piece.

Print out the ebook again, or view it as a PDF.

Read through slowly, checking every sentence and word.

Particularly, look out for:

And now …

Hurrah! You’re the proud author of a finished eBook!

Well, you will be that proud author 😉

Which means it’s time to get out your calendar and write “EBOOK” onto every page of every day for the next month.

Yes, writing an ebook takes time, effort and energy. Yes, the next month looks incredibly busy already: but every month looks incredibly busy, right ?

If you write a small, free eBook, you’ll have a great piece of promotional content.

Or, if you write an eBook to sell, you’ll be able to make money for months, even years, from just one month of work.

Right now is the best time to write .

One of the quickest and simplest ways to give yourself a motivational boost is to make a public commitment to your goal — so, write a comment below and tell us to look out for your finished ebook next month!

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Ali Luke blogs about the art, craft and business of writing at Aliventures, where you can get her free guide to making time to write – however busy you are – plus other handy mini-ebooks. Check them out here.

Reader Interactions

Reader comments (286).

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October 17, 2011 at 9:04 am

Believe it or not, I actually wrote my first eBook with in a week. It’s not a large eBook because it’s only 50 Twitter Tips but you’d be surprised at how many people have purchase my book. I’m selling it for cheap on my website so people can advance themselves with Twitter with real tips and not some fake tips you find on the internet.

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October 17, 2011 at 10:25 am

A week is impressive — congrats! 🙂 I think clear, specific tips are always going to be popular.

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October 18, 2011 at 7:27 am

Thanks Ali Luke! I have at least 3 books brewing in my brain and was never able to get past a simple outline. 30 days huh? mmm….

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October 17, 2011 at 11:20 am

I’d call that more of a guide than a book, I think that the term “e-Book” gets thrown out too easily these days, but the advice still stands.

Nice job getting that done, but is it really worth it to sell something via PayPal for only $1 (due to fees, sales holdings, etc.)?

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October 17, 2011 at 1:09 pm

When internet marketers started offering ebooks, some were as short as 10 pages. I think that was because most people didn’t know what to expect. There is still some advice that they can be 20-30 pages and I disagree with that. That is a report or a booklet maybe.

At the 80 to 100 page length though, I think you’re getting into an area where you can say it’s a book. Some non-fic print books are very short, children’s paperbacks and some other kinds of pocket paperbacks are in that range as well.

Also, unless it’s fiction where the expectation is still a couple hundred pages or more, I think for non-fiction, books need to be long enough to convey the information/provide value, while not being overwhelming at the same time. It’s a delicate balance for sure.

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October 17, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I agree with you on the shortness of some ebooks for sale out there.

However, a $7 ebook that is full of useful facts or “how tos” that really work and are only 15-25 pages are fine. I’d rather buy a 15 page ebook that gives me something of real value than an 80 page one that’s full of waffle and could’ve been half, or even a third of, the length.

I think the days of ebooks on sale for inflated prices, full of “borrowed” content, or let’s face it, complete rubbish, are disappearing thanks to some really professionally written, quality ebooks that really help and advise.

eBooks have opened up avenues for people with something to say to share it with others as never before. I’ve bought a few print books from “good bookshops” that turned out to be duds.

The motto: “You can never buy enough books” stands true for ebooks too.

October 18, 2011 at 6:13 am

Some printed books are also extremely short (I’m thinking of “gift” type mini-books). I’m fine with short ebooks, so long as the sales page makes it clear that they are short.

I’ve seen lots of other terms used (ebooklet, mini-ebook, mini-guide) — but the truth is that there is no agreed standard for how long an ebook “should” be!

As Tom points out, a short, focused ebook can be much more attractive than one that’s been padded to meet a page-count.

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October 20, 2011 at 3:29 pm

That’s awesome! I’d be curious to know how many of those Twitter Tip ebooks you sold for $1. I go the opposite approach… my Facebook eBook is $50, but it’s more than 60 pages of content, and it took me about two months to write. But I wonder if spending a week on an eBook for a lower price, which sold more, is a better investment of time.

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February 27, 2012 at 7:59 pm

I really like the outline. However, do you think this outline will work for an E-Cookbook?

February 28, 2012 at 12:42 pm

You might want to do some things a bit differently (I imagine you’ll be spending some of the “writing” time taking photos, for instance) — but I think the general plan should work. 🙂

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October 17, 2011 at 9:30 am

Writing an ebook is going to take a long time. But breaking down into number of words and dividing them with the number of days, it seems to be do-able now. It is really incredible how this can possibly done.

October 17, 2011 at 10:27 am

It’s the same for any big project, really; if you break it down, it looks so much more possible! Hope you give ebook-writing a go, Alan. 🙂

October 17, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I’m giving it ago like one week ago before this post is published. One thing I learned is to stop editing while writing which I found that most people think the same after reading this post.

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October 18, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Reading your comment made me realize that this is equally applicable to video projects as well.

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October 17, 2011 at 9:42 am

Very interesting post. I think a 30 day e-book is possible, if we follow the guidelines and are truly motivated. I would try this. It is always nice to try and see how well we can do something we have never tried before.

October 17, 2011 at 10:28 am

It’s absolutely possible, though I’ll admit it’s a bit of a challenge (unless you’re very used to writing a lot of content). Good luck if you do give it a go, Marianne!

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October 17, 2011 at 9:57 am

This outline is extremely detailed and informative. Thanks!

October 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Thanks, Dewane! 🙂

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October 17, 2011 at 10:19 am

That’s cool. I’ve always wanted to do NaNoWriMo, but I never thought of doing it for an ebook.. That’s a clever take on things. I’m too busy with managing my own blog that I probably don’t have time to weave a work of fiction, but maybe I can string together an ebook.

Maybe we can call it NaEBoWroMo.

Maybe not… Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue…

October 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Haha! Yeah, I think we’d need a better name 😉

It’s tough to balance writing something longer (whether that’s an ebook or a novel) with writing a blog — but it’s also extremely rewarding, and an ebook can bring some valuable extra attention to your blog.

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November 2, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Hey Clayton and Ali!

How about NaeBoWriMo? (Nay-Bo-Wry-Moe)

Also, I created a Facebook Group if anyone is interested in joining.


Just to keep each other accountable, motivate, publish how many words you’ve written that day, and share your final product at the end.

Thanks for this great post, and I too will be joining.

P.S. Bought your Dummies book on writing an ebook. Thanks for writing that.

November 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Sonia came up with the new name “EbookWriMo” … but I think NaeBoWriMo has a great ring to it too. 🙂 Big thanks for buying my Dummies book!

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October 17, 2011 at 10:33 am

While it’s not specifically stated in the article, it seems as though you support the use of free writing. Do you recommend the book “Accidental Genius” as a source for information on how to do this more effectively?

October 17, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I’ve got no strong feelings about free writing (also known as “morning pages” or “private writing”) — it works for lots of people, though it’s not really designed to produce something for public consumption (like an ebook).

I haven’t read “Accidental Genius”, I’m afraid! From a quick glance at Amazon, there are used copies available for under a dollar — so it’s probably worth a try. 😉

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October 17, 2011 at 10:44 am

Ali: Great write-up. I love your process.

For me, that $3 timer has been one of the best investments I’ve made. I definitely use it to help me stay focused when I need to be. Where I get stuck in this process is in drafting my outlines. A simple bullet list will do, but every now and then, I get stuck.

See you in LA!

October 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Cheers, Ricardo! I find timers incredibly useful when my focus is slipping.

Catch you in LA… 🙂

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October 17, 2011 at 10:58 am

Simplicity is a wonderful thing! It’s been a struggle to figure out how to go about what seems to be such a daunting endeavor, but this article does a fantastic job at putting things in proper perspective. What better time to write a book about building websites than when I’m in the process of creating one for myself? The site planning process becomes the outline for a book! Thanks for the great article!

October 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Thanks Bob! And that sounds like the perfect time — whenever I’m doing a “step by step” bit of an ebook or ecourse, I find I have to go back over the whole process to make sure I don’t leave anything out.

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Many thanks indeed for this priceless info. I’ve had so many ideas about my specialist area in the past 2 years the blogs aren’t enough and I’ve felt fit to burst! Now I know I have an outlet! I’m so excited I won’t sleep tonight so might as well stay up and write! And just to get a few of life’s experiences down I just started on my first semi-auto-biographical novel and it’s like magic…Many thanks indeed Ali.

October 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm

😀 Yay, and thanks Jonny! I’m really thrilled that this post struck a chord with you. And I hope the novel goes brilliantly too — I think fiction (or semi-fiction!) is not only valuable in itself, it’s also a great way to stretch your skills as a writer.

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October 17, 2011 at 11:22 am

The biggest obstacle for me has been determining my topic (really refining it down to something meaningful and specific) and just getting started. Biting that bullet and making it happen. Bookmarking this page – and one week today, the month-long countdown begins!

October 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Hurrah! 😀 Best of luck, Ruth — hope the month goes brilliantly for you!

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October 17, 2011 at 11:33 am

Coincidentally, I have 35 days (including today) to write my first ebook, a ghost-written ebook for a client. Lucky for me, I got to skip the outline and idea processes. But I will definitely be referring to this post over the coming month and in the future, when I secure some time to work on producing a few self-written ebooks.

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October 17, 2011 at 11:38 am

An excellent process. I would add two things to it:

on day 31, have Shane Arthur edit your ebook. <— blatant plug for Shane!

while that’s going on, figure out where and how you’re going to market it – and expect that to take longer than you want it to

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October 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm

#AwShucks. When I’m ready with my Editing Hacks book, I plan on purchasing Ali’s Irresistible EBook for the template she offers. I haven’t seen anybody else offering that, and I’m guessing that should be the first thing people should begin with when writing an ebook.

October 18, 2011 at 6:14 am

Aw, cheers, Shane! The templates are very much an extra, with the ebook itself being the main attraction, but I hope you find them useful 🙂

October 18, 2011 at 6:15 am

Haha! I think having someone else edit your ebook is a great idea (either paying someone, or at least asking a few friends to read it through). If you’re trying to finish within a month, there’s not much time to run it past someone else — but if you’ve got an extra couple of weeks, it’s a great idea.

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October 17, 2011 at 11:49 am

I think an ebook can definitely be drafted in 30 days, but I would take another 30 afterwards to really step away from it for a while and get some perspective before editing/rewriting. And I agree about skipping stuff you can look up later so you can forge ahead with the writing, but I don’t think the opening should be left in the air. I would spend 60-70% of my time and energy nailing that opening. It’s critical to everything that follows, in tone and structure and viewpoint. Finally, another good way to open is to introduce the challenge or problem the reader faces that this chapter will tackle. “Most people find …” or “We’ve all faced the problem where …” If possible, point to a study, trend, statistic or, as you suggest, a quote to support it. Then show how to solve it.

October 18, 2011 at 6:16 am

Great suggestions, Rob. Everyone writes differently, and I know that some writers do indeed find it best to spend plenty of time nailing the introduction. (The type of ebook you’re writing also makes a difference: some are essentially a collection of discrete chapters, others need more of a flow.)

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October 17, 2011 at 11:55 am

This is great! It always helps to have specific steps on the way to a goal. Writing in chunks is nothing new to me, as that is how I deal with writing lessons and teacher helps for my Vacation Bible School programs: study, study, study, and then I sit down and write, write, write–huge amounts at a time.

I have been contemplating writing an ebook related to children’s ministry–most likely, specifically Vacation Bible School, as that is my focus. This is great timing for me. I think I will wrap up the children’s book I am finishing this week and plan to start this project next week. Even with taking a weekly Sabbath, and allowing for a break on Thanksgiving, I should have a quality ebook ready to go before December 1st!

There’s my commitment. Now mix in some real life and prayer; and it should be an interesting and exciting journey! 🙂

The only thing left to decide will be whether it should be a free offering/incentive or for sale. Any thoughts on how to make that decision?

(By the way, I have been reading a lot on your site lately, and have found it very helpful and well-written. Thank you for all the great tips!)

October 18, 2011 at 6:20 am

Tricky one on free vs paid, Sheila — and I think that it’s a decision only you can make! Do you see it as part of your business, or part of your ministry? Charging a few dollars could help people to value it and actually use it — on the other hand, providing it for free would be a good incentive for folks to share it, come to your website, etc.

October 18, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Thanks for the input, Ali. My teenage son gave me an idea that I really like, which balances the two options: have the ebook available for purchase, but offer a free chapter as a bonus for signing up on Hasten Home’s (soon to be created) email list. I was thinking along the lines you were–that is, “charging a few dollars could help people to value it and actually use it.” That is my hope for my ebook, of course! 🙂

I do already have a whole lot of free material on my blog, and I plan on much more to come; but the ebook will be a helpful tool for sharing information with those who really want to go deeper.

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October 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I’ve been wanting to write an Ebook, but I admit I’ve been overwhelmed by the idea of writing one on my own. And like Ruth, I am having a hard time pin-pointing a topic. But I really like how your post has broken it down and made it manageable to do. Like eating an elephant! Thank you!!

October 18, 2011 at 6:21 am

Thanks Jodie! My biggest tip for choosing a topic is to ask your readers what they’d find most useful — that way, you know that you’re producing something valuable.

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October 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm

You make some really great points here. Particularly the 30 minute time limit. I was surprised how much more effective i became with my writing when I was “under the gun” with a ticking clock. It really does work.

October 18, 2011 at 6:23 am

Yep! It’s something I always encourage writers to try at least once. 🙂

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October 17, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I do not have a problem in writing an ebook in 30 days. But I do have a problem marketing me ebooks.

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October 17, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Thanks for the information. This is very helpful as I will be writing an e-book in the near future.

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October 17, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I love, love, LOVE this! In fact, I’m forwarding it to all my writer’s coaching clients. Half the battle writers face is visualizing HOW to get a book from head to paper, and your step-by-step plan is great.

Earlier this year I ghost-wrote a book for a client in 23 days; each day I posted tips on how I did it:

Day 1: I’m writing a book in 23 days (really!) http://dianascimone.typepad.com/how_to_write_a_book/2011/05/day-1-im-writing-a-book-in-23-days-really.html

Thanks again for your great post!

Diana Scimone Writer’s coach http://www.howtowriteabook.biz http://www.peapodpublishing.com

October 18, 2011 at 6:24 am

Thanks Diana! And wow, 23 days … that’s impressively fast! It’s awesome that you blogged about the process, too (I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to blog my ebook-writing in real-time..!)

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October 17, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Thanks for breaking down the process. You really simplified creating an Ebook on a step by step level. I’m sure it will be very useful for anyone looking to create an Ebook in the near future.

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October 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I’m planning on attempting NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. I was trying to figure out the best way to tackle everything and your outline makes perfect sense!! Thanks a million for it! I am somewhat prepping for it now as I want a bit of historical flare to it and need to make sure my facts are straight but it 30 days still isn’t too bad to write and still research at the same time!

Thanks from Serbia!

October 18, 2011 at 6:25 am

Good luck with NaNo, Kiki! Hope it goes brilliantly for you. 🙂

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I know I can write 20,000 words in a month, because I’ve done it before, problem is that they are like 7-8 incomplete ebooks I started writing!! lol

I think I will give myself a challenge to write a 20,000+ word ebook from start to finish including graphics (cover+banners) in the month of November, in fact I’m putting this in my calendar right now, and will make a post on my personal blog about the challenge and link your post Ali, thanks for sharing, this might be the kick in the … I really needed!

October 18, 2011 at 6:26 am

Woot! 🙂 Go Jamie! And you’re definitely not the only writer who finds it easy to start but much tougher to finish… Hope your November goes fantastically!

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Great post, Ali.

My book will be out next month in both digital formats and print. I cannot wait. Tying up all of the loose ends these past couple of months prior to launch has been pretty miserable.

The only point I would add to this post is to have someone else read your work and give feedback. Someone with fresh eyes who will be brutally honest. After reading and re-reading your own work, it’s tough to actually see what’s on the page.

My book wouldn’t be as strong as it is if I hadn’t done this. In fact, I had several people read and give feedback and a lot of it was very valuable to the end product.

Hope that helps someone.

Btw, I’ve followed your work for over a year now (at your blog, DLM, etc.) and think you’re wonderful. Keep up the great work.

Best, Jennifer

October 18, 2011 at 6:27 am

Congrats on the book, Jennifer! And thanks for your kind words too (I’m blushing now… :-))

I absolutely agree with you about getting feedback: it’s something I do with all my ebooks (I usually get several people involved for a range of opinions) and it’s definitely made them stronger. I decided it was going to be a tough thing to fit into a 30-day challenge, but if folks allow themselves an extra week or two, it’s a must-have!

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October 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Great idea. I actually have a piece I wrote two weeks ago that’s being published this Thursday on the same topic at awaionline.com’s “The Writer’s Life”. Great minds think alike!

October 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I think this process works well for fiction writing too.

Writing 1,500 words per days for 2 months (60days) produces 90,000 words: a proud length. I’ve tried it and discovered once you’ve written the first 1,000 each day, writing the extra 500 words on top is simple.

Knowing where you’re going with your writing helps. A plan, if not a plot, just a good story (as Stephen King might say) helps you get those 1,500 written every day. Once you start, it actually gets easier as you go along. Writer’s block doesn’t seem to apply (at least not so far!). Momentum seems to keeps the Block down.

Two tips: #1: Don’t edit. Keep your inner editor locked inside a cupboard until you’ve written those 90,000 words. Ignore the banging on the cupdoor and pleas to be let loose.

#2: If you can’t actively write, e.g. you can’t get access to your respective “writing machines” of choice easily to write your 1,500, invest in a digital recorder. One of those that are little bigger than a UP-what’s it! And get one of those clip-on mics that look like speakers for mobile phones so people just think you’re talking to someone when you speak your 1,500 a day. You can write all 60 days of them later – unless to have software that writes while you speak.

eBooks, like blogging, have opened up huge worlds for individuals to enjoy sharing their ideas and making money. That is a good thing. A democracy in action.

As ever the point made by Ali Luke to write what readers want to read is a good one. I wonder however, if the motto: “Write the kind of novels you would like to read, and others will want to read them too.” is true of non-fiction?

October 18, 2011 at 6:29 am

I agree, it absolutely works for fiction books.

“Write the kind of novels you would like to read, and others will want to read them too” is a GREAT way to approach fiction. With non-fiction, however, I’m less convinced! Something that works for many of the people I coach is to “write for yourself a few years ago” — try to get back into the mindset of someone fairly new to your area or topic.

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October 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Already committed to it with a couple of friends…

Thanks for the kick in the pants Ali!

and thanks for the formula!

October 18, 2011 at 6:30 am

Good luck, Ed (and good luck, Ed’s friends)! 🙂

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October 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

I think you’ve just convinced me to sign up for that NaNoWriMo!

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October 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm

It doesn’t have to be just an ebook. You can use CreateSpace to publish it on Kindle and as a “real” book for back of the room sales and to sell on Amazon.com.

October 17, 2011 at 3:57 pm

LuLu.com and Blurb.com are the two other major contenders here. Each has their merits, so define your needs first, then look at them all & compare.

As David alludes, we’re talking street cred here. That may very well make you a lot more $$ than out & out book sales.

October 18, 2011 at 6:31 am

Depending on your topic area, a paper book could well be a fantastic addition. I’ve used Lulu, and it’s relatively simple to get to grips with.

It’s not only good for street cred, you can also give a copy to your proud parents! 😉

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October 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Great job on making the writing process more accessible by putting it on a timeline. Seeing a plan on a calendar / day-timer and then doing the steps in bite sized-pieces really makes things much more “do-able.”

RE: The editing / proofreading steps in days 26-30… It can be tricky to catch our own mistakes. Since we know what we meant to say when we were writing, that’s usually what we’ll see on the page / screen when we’re editing / proofreading for ourselves.

I’ve helped people with editing and proofreading for online business for almost 20 years. People often ask me how they can improve their own skills.

My favorite trick to help with this is to suggest they actually take a printout of the document away from their normal writing environment and then read it out loud. Reading out loud, especially in a slightly different environment than we’re used to, can actually force us to slow down a bit and see more of what’s on the page. It’s also a simple and easy thing to do. (Not to mention a good reason to stop for a minute, make a great cup of coffee or tea, and spend a few minutes simply enjoying the process of writing and creating!)

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October 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Amen to that Lauren – back in the early 90s I met an editor from Simon and Schuster. This was the early days of word processors being used – and she said she could read a manuscript and tell immediately if it had been edited on a computer screen or it had been printed out.

It’s the biggest editing tip I have to share with content creators.

Plus you can make your print out look different – use a different font, a different font size and print that out so it looks different to what you’re used to on the screen.

October 18, 2011 at 6:34 am

Great tip, Lauren and Paul, and one that I’ve heard from writers/editors before (and, indeed, one I often use myself when editing) — thanks for adding it!

And even if you don’t want to print out your manuscript, changing the font or font size (as Paul points out) can really make a difference. So can double-spacing the lines — it creates more white space around the words, making it easy to focus on each individual one.

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I’m actually going to be writing my fiction novel during NaNoWriMo next month. But I have been outlining an eGuide I’d like to write soon, so maybe I will make that my December project… or save it for the first of the year. Thanks for the detailed guidance for making an eBook happen in a month!

October 18, 2011 at 7:49 am

Good luck with the novel, Jennifer! December can be a great month for ebook-writing, as the blogosphere tends to slow down a bit around Christmas time. 🙂

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October 17, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Now you got me pondering . . .

Very nice outline and making something as challenging as writing a book, to very simple.

Thanks Paul! Writing a book is definitely challenging … but also definitely do-able. 🙂

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October 17, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Boy, do I ever need a motivational schedule to abide by like this one. I have to imagine that your tips here work for general writing projects – not just eBooks.

October 18, 2011 at 7:50 am

They absolutely do, Emma! Any big writing project can be broken down in a similar way (though some will need a fair bit longer than 30 days…)

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October 17, 2011 at 5:37 pm

This post came at just the right time. I have decided on a topic for my free ebook so this will really help me get on and get the job done. Many thanks.

October 18, 2011 at 7:52 am

Hurrah! Best of luck, Sharon, hope the writing goes well and that the free ebook brings you lots of great traffic. 🙂

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October 17, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Very informative and timely!!

Just about t begin writing an e-book and your article has just broken down for me – step by step 🙂

Thank you so much!

October 18, 2011 at 7:54 am

Yay, and thanks Ngina! Best of luck with your ebook. 🙂

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October 17, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Ali thanks so much for challenging me to put into action something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Love your process and the way you chunk it down. I can do this!

October 18, 2011 at 7:56 am

Absolutely! Ebooks really aren’t as hard to write as they look … which is why I wanted to break it all down like this. 🙂

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October 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Ali –

Thanks–I’m excited at the prospect, now!

I’ve heard so many ridiculous methods for throwing together garbage and calling it an ebook, that this is such a breath of fresh air.

Just what I needed right now!

October 18, 2011 at 7:57 am

Yay, thanks Nancy!

Like you, I’ve got no time for the “shove it all together in an afternoon and call it an ebook” way of doing things. Quality is crucial — and achievable in a realistic time-frame.

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October 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm

This post is epic. I love that it breaks down all the tasks from idea to outline to writing to editing. I was expecting a formula for 30 days of writing, but this is even better.

October 18, 2011 at 7:59 am

Thanks Joseph!

One of the biggest problems I see is that people try to launch straight into writing — without a clear outline, or even an idea that they’re confident they can sell. I wanted to give the 30 days a structure that emphasised the importance of the planning and editing phases (as well as the writing itself) — so it’s great to hear this worked!

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October 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I found that my local university had a creative writing class that I could take for about $400 that helped me immensely with writing. Improved my blog writing as well as helping me to write this ebook.

I learned that its not so much to just write 10,000 words but to write that keeps the engagement of the reader as well as teaches or tells that story.

My instructor would say, “Great job but are they going to buy your next book?”

October 20, 2011 at 8:53 am

Great tip — I’ve definitely found creative writing classes helpful, both for practical knowledge and for motivation!

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October 17, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Wow, that sounds really easy, but am sure the days 5 – 25 will be a killer and will easily take a toll on anyone. Hopefully I will get the courage to start thinking about it one of these days.

October 18, 2011 at 8:01 am

You don’t necessarily have to write a full 20,000 word ebook — I know that 1,000 words per day is a stretch for many writers.

How about a shorter ebook (10,000 words, say) — 500 per day is an average blog post!

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October 17, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Great post, Ali. I like the way you break down the process of writing an e-book. I’m going to give this a try, but probably not until January. November is our art sale season so I’ll be busy making felted clothing for sale. But after reading your post I’m torn by my priorities — to create through writing or to create through felting. Hmmm. Thanks for complicating my life. It will be fun sorting it all out.

October 18, 2011 at 8:02 am

Thanks Chris! And hey, a little complication isn’t necessary a bad thing … 😉 Good luck with the felting and the ebook, whatever order you tackle them in!

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October 18, 2011 at 1:08 am

Wow, this is just the right kind of stuff on e-book writing that I’ve been waiting for. I have learned that one way to promote your site is to write an e-book. Your post gives me the push and tips to come up with my first e-book ever. More power to you Ali!

Thanks Jonan! Hope your first ebook goes brilliantly — you’re quite right that it’s a great way to promote a website.

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October 18, 2011 at 1:44 am

I happened to read this at just the right time, writing a book is definitely in my bucket list,starting with an e-book seems like a brilliant idea, really grateful for the way in which you have shared yourself so freely, am daring myself to write an ebook in a month, come 1st December, will be talking a different story. Watch this space 😉

October 18, 2011 at 8:03 am

Hurrah, and good luck, Veehcirra! Hope your November goes really well. 🙂

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October 18, 2011 at 3:54 am

Yep, I’m going to do it. I’ve been working on it for a while, but haven’t been focused as much as I should be. Knowing that a bunch of people will also be doing it in November might keep me going. I’ve done NaNoWriMo before and it’s fun.

If you need some help and coaching, check out my friend Joel Canfield’s site at http://somedaybox.com/

Get your book out of the ‘someday box.’

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November 25, 2011 at 7:51 am

Thanks for the plug, Rex 🙂

I notice a whole bunch of people coming up with all the things that *could* be wrong with an ebook written in one month.

What if they just did it, and didn’t make those mistakes? if you’re truly concerned about your ability to deliver a quality product in just one month, for instance, write less, but make it better. Or write for a month, and take a month to polish, though I think that’s overkill.

Chances are, if you can foresee a problem, you’ll find a way around it. I challenge every one who’s made a comment about “But what about . . . ” or “You can’t . . . ” to suspend disbelief for 30 days, and give this an honest try. Slay the dragon of Resistance. (And, like Rex said, if you really want help . . . )

November 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Exactly … I’m certainly NOT suggesting that people throw any old rubbish out there. Absolutely not. But really, when you knuckle down and *write*, it’s surprising just how much you can achieve.

And great point about writing less. Your ebook doesn’t need to be long or complex. If this is your first time writing one, a 5,000 word free ebook could be a fantastic project to spend 30 days on. 🙂

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October 18, 2011 at 5:28 am

I’m also busy writing an ebook and its taking me quite some time now ! But yes as you mentioned I think I need an internet blocker. That’s all thats going to stop me from wasting my time on browsing. Thanks !

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October 18, 2011 at 5:46 am

Interesting article. Where would be the best place to look if I wanted to outsource the preparation of an ebook using content I have created over a series of articles? How much would it likely cost. Haven’t decided if I will look into it yet just interested on the details.

October 18, 2011 at 8:05 am

Good question, Dane! I’d suggest looking for someone who specialises in ebook creation. Kelly Kingman comes to mind — her site is http://stickyebooks.com (I don’t know what her rates are).

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October 18, 2011 at 6:59 am

Simple and concise tips Ali. Getting clear on your subject and making sure it’s useful to others form the foundation for a special offering.

Thanks Ryan! 🙂

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October 18, 2011 at 8:36 am

One of my top NaNo tips is: set aside a weekend or two for catching up in case you fall behind (especially if you’re in the US and have Thanksgiving available to you).

If you say “I’m going to get up on time and do nothing but write and drink coffee today”, it’s amazing how much you can get done even in a morning.

October 19, 2011 at 5:19 am

I occasionally fail at the “get up on time” hurdle… 😉 But in seriousness, YES! This is great advice. Having even one whole day to work single-mindedly on a writing project makes a massive difference.

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October 18, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Excellent tips!

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October 18, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Thanks Ali, Your tips were inspiring and also straight to the point. I’ve linked to your article on my blog, added some tips of my own, and thrown down the gauntlet to others to join me during nanowrimo to write an eBook. What a powerful post yours was! I wonder how many new eBooks will be the result of your helpful guidance?

October 19, 2011 at 5:22 am

Hurrah, and good luck in November!

After reading all the lovely, enthusiastic comments here, I’m looking out for a spate of launches in a month’s time 😉

October 18, 2011 at 10:50 pm

This is one of those article that I’ve saved and put into evernote to allow me to read and refer back often. Definitely a great piece of article as this is my single biggest problem, procrastination on putting out content because of the overwhelming task of writing a full blown ebook. But if I break it down like what you advice, it is suddenly manageable and writing a few pages each day seems like a minute task all of a sudden.

October 19, 2011 at 5:23 am

Thanks Ted! Procrastination is a huge issue for so many writers — especially bloggers, because there’s always the sense that blog posts are more urgent (and, let’s face it, easier!) than writing an ebook.

Hope you do go for those few pages a day! 🙂

October 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm

I’m writing an ebook about the gastric bypass experience.

The writing part won’t be a problem, I’m concerned about how the website looks to sell it. Anyone have any examples of successful ebook site designs?

October 20, 2011 at 8:52 am

Most people write what’s called a “sales page” to sell their ebook — either a separate page on their existing website, or a one-page website.

Here are a couple of (quite different!) examples: http://freelancefolder.com/book/ http://rockablepress.com/books/rockstar-wordpress-designer-2/

There’s loads of advice on writing sales pages here on Copyblogger, so you might want to dig around in the archives. 🙂

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October 20, 2011 at 10:46 am

Love all the tips in this post, Ali. I’m already signed up for the novel writing challenge and have decided I’m finally going to use it to get the book I’ve been working on for two years written. (That’s really embarrassing to say)

October 20, 2011 at 3:32 pm

This is an excellent post. I wrote an eBook once in fewer than 30 days, and I followed the same course (though not on purpose, but what you outline is a really natural and realistic approach).

Do you have any advice (or have you written any other posts) on how to price eBooks?

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October 21, 2011 at 7:38 am

This is really great formula to write an e-book in 30 days. The best thing is that we can be organized without losing our attention. I have used some of the parts especially mind maps, but never put such a goal to write 1000 words daily with such a discipline.

It’s worth trying the formula.

October 24, 2011 at 11:54 am

Thanks, Dragan! It’s tough to stick with a daily writing habit (and many people find that something slightly different works — e.g. writing on weekdays only or weekends only) — but getting into a good routine is really helpful when you’re working on a long-term project like an ebook.

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October 21, 2011 at 8:46 am

This is really great information. I envy people who can create such logical plans and plot them out. I have been stuck on moving forward with my e-book. It starts and stops and I am not really sure what is currently stopping me. Thanks for this post.

October 24, 2011 at 11:52 am

Nicole, do you know where you’re going next with the ebook? I often get stuck if I try to write without a clear plan! Even a list of several key points that you want to cover in the next chapter could help.

Best of luck getting back into it!

October 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Do you believe in your ebook’s purpose still? How does your ebook fit into your “actualizing purpose”, for example, what goal do you intend your ebook to achieve for you – increased subscribers? creating your authority in your niche? These are the questions which you need to ask yourself to get back into action for your ebook and get writing again. Answering these questions will help you set out the plan Ali talks about.

Remember, your ebook should be a tool; an employee even, with a specific role. If you have no specific role for it, then you’ll find your ebook (and you) flounders around, and any opportunity you wanted your ebook to bring, will dissolve.

Check out Ali’s “create an outline” tips and read “what your audience is looking” again, as these will help you decide your ebook’s “actualizing purpose” and fire-up your inspiration again.

October 27, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I have been thinking on this response from Ali and from Tom. Because this is exactly what the topic of my e-book is about. The frustrations of working at home and building a business online when you are a ‘daydreamer.’ Online business training is very left brained targeted. My e-book is targeted towards artists, writers, seekers and daydreamers in general. (Some mistakenly diagnosed with attention deficit.)

The point of my response is that plans do not pan out for some. It comes down to routines not plans. This e-book has to be part of my daily routine. It is not really the content that has me stuck, but working it into my day. I can take the plans and outlines passed my way and pick parts here and there to use and implement, but for someone like me to work through a 90 day plan or an outline or what-not is almost impossible. There is nothing wrong with this. Our minds are wired differently and it is always good to hook up with others who are more logically wired. The e-book is about the possibility of this. How we can stay true to our daydreamer tendencies and move forward with our lives and our businesses. How do the unfocused find their focus and get things done.

Tom, it does fit into my ‘actualizing purpose’ and I went back and read all the things you recommended above and I do know what I want to achieve with the e-book. Routines are vitally important to creatives and ‘daydreamers.’ I think there was a section on this is Uncertainty, the new Jonathon Fields book.

If you say the word plan or rules to a daydreamer they will run the other way. But I know that ‘daydreamers’ are probably not Ali’s market. I just happened to be reading the post. But thank-you both for your responses because it got me thinking about how to make this e-book part of my daily routine.

October 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Ah, I get where you’re coming from, Nicole. Maybe you could try setting aside a whole day just for writing — I know Catherine Caine (awesome gal) does that, and her work is amazingly full of energy.

Your ebook sounds great (and probably much-needed!) I’m definitely left-brained as creative types go — I thrive on plans and routine! But I’m very much open to exploring my right-brained side too, and I’d love to see the alternative anti-plan to mine…

November 3, 2011 at 6:01 pm

This is good advice. I think I will pick a day and actually leave the house. Go to the library or something.

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October 28, 2011 at 2:10 am

I bookmarked this post a few weeks ago while I tested out a few ways to make money. None of those methods worked out, so I’m back! I’ve had quite a few good ebook ideas saved on my PC for a year or so, but I have a hard time staying on task. This post is terrific and I think it’ll help me out a lot! I would love to make residual income with an army of useful ebooks I wrote myself, so thanks for this great post 🙂

Welcome back, Rose! And good luck making some money from ebooks — they’ve definitely worked well for me. 🙂

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October 28, 2011 at 7:16 am

i’m joining this year’s nanowrimo. it’s going to be my first. and i’m excited about it. i thought nanowrimo is about writing fiction! you can do non-fic too: http://productcreationblog.com/385/nano4info-challenge-joining-information/ i have an ebook in mind. and a story idea i want to turn into a novel. so i have to make up my mind if i’m to write an ebook or a novel. why is it so difficult to be writing a novel 🙁 when it’s so easy talking like a dirigible pirate!

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October 29, 2011 at 11:04 am

I am excited about this challenge. Iam just starting my business and don’t really have an following yet. But, I am still going to create the E-Book for my future client. i love your e-mails..I save them for the weekend or when I have time..that is why I am just writing this post.

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November 1, 2011 at 8:30 am

Love this, Ali! Most of success is just about showing up every day, whether it’s to write a book or market your business, or set an appointment. Small daily habits make huge changes over the long term. Thanks for such practical guidance and good common sense!

November 2, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Thanks, Darlene! And I completely agree — showing up is half the battle won.

November 25, 2011 at 8:01 am

Ali, your stuff always makes me smile. You say “and then do this, and this, and this, and look—you’re done!” in a way that inspires confidence. Which, as I’m about to share, is far more important to this process than most folks realise.

I recently had a big party to celebrate publishing 6 books in 6 months.

Now, I didn’t completely write all 6 during that time, but at least 2 of them were conceived, written, and published within the 6 months. Since I’m also a web developer, I created a website for each book, and even created Kindle versions of all 6 of them. I publish independently, so each book had to be proofread and formatted, have a cover designed, and all the other bits of creating a book from scratch.

I don’t have some big team helping me; just my wife, who is, you might get, spectacularly organised and a brilliant admin type. But the single biggest reason I got this done was because I chose to ship instead of worrying about the myriad reasons this was an insane idea.

If you have the chutzpah and smarts to operate your own business, you have what it takes to deliver a solid, worthwhile ebook in 30 days.

You just have to stop being afraid.

November 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Thanks, Joel! I like breaking things down into practical steps (otherwise, I’d never manage to get anything done myself…)

Publishing 6 books in 6 months is an amazing achievement — wow! I know just how much work goes into proofreading, formatting, etc — so huge congrats to you (and to your wife). There’s a lot to be said for taking a deep breath and taking the plunge into publishing. 🙂

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November 29, 2011 at 2:57 am

You will find everything you need about musical instruments and professional sound

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November 30, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Alright, Ali, I know I’m a little late, but I’m going to do it. I’m making the public commitment. Next month, I will write a 20000 word eBook. By 2012, I will have writteny first eBook–on a topic both dear to my heart and poignantly relevant to my community as well as the world at large!

December 1, 2011 at 8:08 am

It’s never too late, Doug! 😉 Hope your December goes brilliantly; let me know how you get on. 🙂

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February 7, 2012 at 5:28 am

Hi Ali & everyone else who’s posted some great comments & tips. I’m late to the party!! Wanting to write an ebook I came across your site & this fantastic blog which helped galvanise a lot of my thinking & gave me some brilliant tips, advice & a starting point. I’ve now got a questionnaire together to research my market so thanks for that great tip. My ebook is about working from home. My difficulty is a chicken & egg situation. What comes first? The blog or the ebook? Also reading so much info that there is online often leads to overwhelm rather than clarity for someone who isn’t concerned about the writing process regarding the content & the discipline. What’s holding me back is what comes after it’s written so I’m more concerned about the marketing & selling of it especially as I’m a bit of technology dinosaur! Any comments would be appreciated.

February 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Chris, I’d suggest taking things one step at a time. Focus on writing the ebook first, then worry about marketing and selling after that.

It is a bit chicken-and-egg… perhaps you could start the blog by posting excerpts from the ebook-in-progress or links to related resources (maybe a couple of short posts each week), that way you can repurpose some of what you’re already writing!

Best of luck. 🙂

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February 17, 2012 at 1:36 am

In few months of blogging, I found out one of the best strategies to make your blogging business more successful as possible is ebook marketing, in which I was searching now on certain tips on how to make a highly created e-book. Holla!… I found this very helpful and interesting post, Thank for this bro…. I have a great idea now on how to make my own ebook!

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March 18, 2012 at 9:49 am

Great tips, Ali – thanks for posting such helpful information!

I found this post while searching for information on how to create an eBook. I was feeling a little overwhelmed until I came across your post. I am starting immediately!

Do you think using specialized eBook software or programs is necessary?

Thanks! Lisa

March 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Lisa, while you can just create a PDF, it doesn’t have any real “features” the way a Kindle or ePub book would. Kindle and Nook users are used to having access to a table of contents and other built-in tools which are part of those formats.

You can start from MS Word, save it as HTML, then upload to your Kindle or Nook account and they’re converted automatically, and as much as it pains this15-year web geek to say it, fairly accurately.

March 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm

It depends a bit on what you’re planning to do. Some ebooks are just .pdfs — that works well if your audience will mostly be reading them on a computer (or printing them out). So it’s not 100% “necessary” to use specialized software — I just use Word to create my .pdf ebooks.

If you do want to create Kindle (.mobi) or Nook (.epub) versions then Calibre is a nice piece of software for that, and it’s free to download. (It has Windows, OS X and Linux versions too.) Like Joel, I start in Word and convert to HTML, though I then fiddle around with the code to remove lots of the junk that Word puts in there!

March 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Joel & Ali – thanks so much. I appreciate you sharing the perspectives for each.

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March 21, 2012 at 4:10 am

Hello Ali, Do you cut and paste from Word to Notepad before converting to HTML?


March 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm

I’m not Ali, but I’ll share what I’ve learned.

Despite my 15 years of experience hand-coding websites, I was surprised to discover that Word’s “Save as HTML (Filtered)” spews out something the Kindle uploader finds acceptable. I’ve used barely polished Word HTML for ePub (Nook) and Kindle books, and they work just fine. And since there’s no “view source” function, nobody sees the horrific code.

My first couple ebooks, I hand-coded, because that’s what I do. But in a hurry one day, I experimented with doing it the easy way. I was simultaneously dismayed and glad that it works.

There’s always a bit of tidying, things like page breaks, table of contents, formatting. But it’s minimal.

March 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Like Joel, I save as HTML (filtered) from Word (though I do clean up the document a fair bit first). In the past, I’ve gone through documents and cleaned up the code, just to make sure there are never any nasty surprises for people reading it on different devices … but I might get less obsessive about it in the future!

My main tip is to ALWAYS preview your ebook on an actual Kindle (or whatever ereader you have) to make absolutely sure that nothing’s come through weirdly…

March 25, 2012 at 4:11 am

Many thanks. You’ve both saved me time – and money! There’s several “offers” going round the publish-to-kindle world starting from $30 + for software/packages meant to help convert documents into eReader-friendly formats. From what you both seem to saying this conversion can be done quite easily and, the premise that (without these offers) the end result could be poor formatting that turns readers off, is not a likely one after all. Am I right?

March 25, 2012 at 7:09 am

With care and attention, you’re correct, Tom.

I’d say there are two reasonable options: do it yourself using the free tools available, or completely hand it off to someone else who does it for you. In case a disclaimer is necessary, I’m one of those people, but the truth is, you’d hire someone to get out of the process entirely, not because you can’t create a good end product on your own.

As Ali has emphasized, the code can use a little cleanup, and you should always preview on a real Kindle or Nook, not just on the preview tools those formats provide. And keep asking questions because if you can do this stuff yourself, you take even more control of the process.

March 27, 2012 at 7:03 am

I’d echo what Joel says here. Either doing it yourself or hiring help is valid; it depends how comfortable you are with things like HTML code and using new software programs. I spent quite a while figuring out how to get things right when I did my first few ebooks into .mobi and .epub, but I wanted to do it myself. (I’m comfortable with HTML and CSS, too, which helped when I was trying to get everything to look right.)

There are plenty of people offering services to convert documents for you; like Joel says, the best use of that is probably to just get someone else to sort it all out for you, rather than to pay for a half-way service.

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April 5, 2012 at 4:48 am

A very well written guide to writing an ebook I am in the process of writing one a over the easter weeks and I stumbled across this content which has helped to clarify and improve my work – thanks 🙂

April 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Thanks Adam, and best of luck with your ebook, hope it goes well!

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July 14, 2012 at 9:24 am

Thank you Ali, that’s a very good guide. I’m thinking about writing a free ebook for my blog and so I found your tips very useful. Take care! 🙂

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September 27, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Thanks Ali but what if I have so many ideas I can’t narrow them down or maybe I don’t have ideas or I don’t have a blog, website and not on Twitter or Facebook, etc., what would you suggest I do to come up with a subject/topic that’s in demand?

September 28, 2012 at 10:10 am

Jennifer, I’m not Ali, nor will I ever be, but here are some thoughts.

If you don’t have an online presence of any kind, an ebook probably isn’t the right tool for you.

But it seems likely there are people in your life, yes? First sort out why you want to write something, then sort out where your audience might be, then go ask them, in person, what would help them.

With no online presence, you’re better off writing a non-fiction how-to for small businesses. Hang out at the Chamber of Commerce or a local small biz networking mixer. Get to know people. Ask what they need. They’ll be glad to tell you.

September 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Joel, I did not mean to offend. Clearly I hit the wrong “reply” button when posting my question. No, I do not have an online presence but it doesn’t mean I can’t get one or several when the time is right. My interest with this blog focuses on topic research and developing content. I have noted your comments and will consider them as I move forward. Thank you.

September 28, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Jennifer, I’m sorry my sense of humor didn’t translate to my comment. If you’ll re-read my comment, imagining a big ol’ smile on my face while we share our tea or coffee or whatever, you’ll get closer to the point I meant to make.

If you’re going to work toward an online presence, as a web developer with 15+ years’ experience I’d recommend starting with a free blog at WordPress.com which will translate well to a professional website when the time comes. That way, at least you have a website folks can visit, a place they can leave comments, and a way to interact with your intended audience.

I’m a cheerful friendly helpful person. Really I am. I just find myself more amusing than I really am, sometimes 😉

September 28, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Joel, I have to say you humanized yourself to me with your words of kindness and I sincerely appreciate it. I can tell you are a nice person by your response. I agree, sometimes emails, text, etc. don’t translate as well as we’d like. I made a note of your suggestions and as I move forward in my efforts to learn how to write an ebook I will remember your recommendations.

September 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Hi Jennifer! And Joel, thanks for jumping in with some great advice — I’ve been offline much of the weekend.

Jennifer, I’d echo everything Joel says. Feedback from contacts in an area or industry that you want to write about will be invaluable. (When I’m choosing between several different ideas, I’m sometimes surprised by what turns out to be popular!)

WordPress.com is a great place to begin, once you’re ready to start building your online presence. By the way, I think you’re doing exactly the right thing in reading Copyblogger and soaking up lots of knowledge before you take the plunge — there’s a ton of practical and encouraging advice here. 🙂

Very best of luck!

September 30, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I appreciate your comments but are you saying an ebook only works if you have an online presence? If someone has value information or interesting antidote but no current online presence I don’t see why an ebook would not be an effective vehicle, coupled with a creative a marketing strategy. Seems like that old proverbial (and rhetorical) saying, “which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” 🙂

October 1, 2012 at 8:08 am

I’m not suggesting an ebook has no value if you don’t have an online presence, but consider your audience: people who prefer digital to analog (that is, ebook to print.)

If those readers can’t find your website, blog, Twitter and Facebook pages, if they Google your name and come up with 11 other people who aren’t you, but not you, you lose credibility to some extent.

And in this day and age, if someone wants to produce an ebook, what’s a valid reason NOT to start a free WordPress blog and write twice a week about your subject? You could have a blog started five minutes from now, and by the time your ebook is ready in 30 days, you could have a dozen posts on it for your ebook readers to comment on and connect with.

October 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Jennifer, I think an ebook *can* work with a minimal online presence … but for me, at least, I can’t imagine marketing an ebook very easily offline (if that’s what you might be thinking of?)

When I launched my first Blogger’s Guide ebook, I didn’t actually have a current blog of my own (though I did have a static website, where the ebook was sold — and I’d had active blogs in the past, and was a paid blogger on several sites). I promoted it through guest posting on other people’s blogs — though I did already have some connections due to my existing online presence.

It’s honestly completely up to you what path you follow, and what you do first — my only concern is that you might put lots of effort into writing an ebook, only to struggle to market it effectively. For me, blogging, email lists, and Twitter have been hugely useful marketing tools.

It’s the same as with a print book, really; if you can’t get that book in front of people (e.g. through conferences, through personal contacts, through speaking engagements) then it’s hard to make sales — even if the book itself is excellent, people won’t know it exists!

October 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Hi Ali and Joel,

Thanks, I get your point. Using online connections for researching topics for an ebook and using those connections to market the ebook seems plausible to me. I appreciate your insightful feedback. 🙂

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October 26, 2012 at 9:17 am

I plan to implement these tips over the next month, and we;ll see how it works out.

October 26, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Best of luck, Kenneth!

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October 26, 2012 at 9:41 am

Great article! I just finished two eBooks recently. My suggestion is that you start to write short eBooks about 30 pages. It is a lot easier to accomplish. Once you have done it, you will be motivated to write more. Having an outline will definitely make your writing task easy to manage.

October 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Great tip on keeping it short, Mary — I think that’s definitely a good plan for anyone who’s new (or fairly new) to e-book writing.

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October 26, 2012 at 9:57 am

I’ve met some people who’ve written full-length and or short films in 30 days or less. All it takes is discipline, commitment, structure, and organization. And…The ability to say “no” to family and friends when they ask you to go out or even attend some sort of function. You may have to disappoint people. If you can do this without feeling guilty, you’ll have a polished eBook, screenplay, book, etc. in no time.

October 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm

The saying “no” part can be tough. Sometimes, a simple “I’m sorry, I’m busy that night” is easier than explaining the ins and outs of your e-book (screenplay, novel, etc) writing plan. It’s really crucial to carve out time for your business / your writing — and the good thing about a 30-day period is that you can always promise to make up for it next month!

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October 26, 2012 at 10:16 am

Great posting – and very timely. I came across NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago. The result of that November is now up on Amazon Kindle site as ‘Another Glorious Day’. The 2011 November’s month of writing has taken a few months of editing and will be up as an ebook soon hopefully to join the other four up there. I am already getting ideas together for this November – which is coming round all too quickly! My experience is that, with determination, a 50,000 novel can be roughly knocked out in the month but then begins the longer task of editing and refining – but a great spur to getting something concrete out at least once a year.

October 26, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Thanks Geoff — and congratulations on the fruits of your last two NaNos! I agree that the editing / refining is a huge part of NaNo — if you’re writing 50,000 words in a month, they’re almost certainly going to need some heavy work. With a non-fiction ebook, you can go for a much shorter word count and fit in a bit of editing during the month.

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October 26, 2012 at 10:43 am

Timely with NaNoWriMo around the corner.

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October 26, 2012 at 10:47 am

Where does one find great e-books that can be studied as models?

Amazon, presumably? But it’s such a new medium, it seems like there isn’t yet a “canon” of commonly accepted great e-books like there is with print books in almost any genre. Or is there?

Obviously I know it depends somewhat on the genre you’re trying to write in, but I’d love to get some examples of e-books that are a clinic on how to do it right–structure, style, level of specificity etc.

Also, for those of us who struggle with distraction (looking at Ali’s point about shutting off your internet), I really like the app “Write or Die” which plays horrible loud noises if more than a few seconds elapse without you typing.

October 26, 2012 at 2:22 pm

James, this really depends what sort of e-book you’re writing — whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, free, in-depth, etc. You can certainly look on Amazon, or you could turn to blogs that offer free ebooks as .pdf downloads (many will use these as an incentive to encourage you onto their email lists) — you’ll find that the quality varies, but you should get a good idea of what works well and what doesn’t.

I agree that Write or Die is a great app!

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October 26, 2012 at 11:01 am

Thanks so much for always taking the time to email to me your wonderful information.

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October 26, 2012 at 11:19 am

This is a wonderful opportunity for us to put our ideas into concrete form. I have several books that I am currently working on. I will choose one to complete in the 30 days. It takes discipline and determination. Thank you Ali for the insights, tips and information you share.

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October 26, 2012 at 11:33 am

***Addition** Don’t just edit and proofread yourself, you’ll be too involved and you’ll make mistakes. If you can afford it, have a proofreader review it. You’ll be amazed at what errors are found.

October 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Great addition! And if you can’t afford a professional editor / proof-reader, it’s a great idea to find a writing buddy who you can swap manuscripts with — it’s amazing how tough it can be to spot your own typos and how easy it can be to spot other people’s.

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October 26, 2012 at 11:37 am

Ali, As a veteran book coach, I applaud this blog how to and agree with your points. RE:Write a list. If you’re already extremely familiar with your topic, you’ve probably got an outline in your head.

Tips I can add that will help others here…

1.Write chapters faster with a structure–begtin, middle and end and instead of waiting to edit at the end, the structure will allow you to write well enough for only one edit. This blueprint is in my book, “Write your eBook or Other Short Book Fast!” (Ask Q in hook, and answer in middle part)

2. Remember to add the selling points before you finish your book– the cover, the title page, the About the Aurhor, the TOC and the Resources page. If it’s a free eBook to brand you and attract customers, then add short promotional copy and a link that leads back to your site where you sell more expensive products and services.

3. Market While you Write. Make your 3-5 chapters titles (for short eBook) include a key word similar to your book title to make it searchable and distribute more copies..

4. Keep a marketing mindset as your book. What are questions your audience wants answered? Waht are 5 benefits of your book to them? Ali, it’s great to see this specific help for authors because they need it to succeed!

October 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Judy, thanks so much for your kind words, and also your excellent tips. It’s definitely a good plan to focus on the selling and marketing right through the writing process … makes things so much easier when you get to publication!

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October 26, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Hi Ali – this is a scrumptious post that I will definitely be sharing, tweeting and Evernoting for future reference – I’m planning to write an eBook in the near future, so your tips will be extremely helpful.

I like the idea of starting at the end, with a clear idea of what you want the book to achieve – I can see the logic in that. Apart from helping structure the book, I suspect it might also boost your motivation, by having the finishing line in sight right from the start of the race.

Regarding the choice of subject, isn’t it also worth having a look at what people are actually buying – for example, by checking out Amazon’s best sellers? Otherwise, there’s a danger you could spend a lot of effort writing a book on a subject that people are interested in – but maybe not quite so keen that they’d be prepared to pay money for it. Just a thought.

Thanks very much for providing such actionable advice – great stuff,

October 26, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Thanks so much, Sue, both for your lovely comment and for sharing the post!

That’s a great point about subject — yes, definitely check out best sellers (whether that’s on Amazon or on blogs / websites in your niche — depends a bit what sort of audience you’re aiming for). Some topics are popular ones but they’re not necessarily ones people will pay for.

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October 26, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Count me in! Provisional title: The Maximized You.

Thanks for providing the incentive and the tool :-] ~Beat

October 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Best of luck, Beat!

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October 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm

What a FANTASTIC idea! I have been actually struggling with getting an eBook written this year on content and blog marketing so this may just be the motivation I need to finally get it done. Thanks for putting some fire under my behind and those of my fellow eBook writers!

– Tess

October 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Thanks Tess! Best of luck on getting your ebook done — content and blog marketing are definitely hot topics right now, so I’m sure you’ll find plenty of buyers. 🙂

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October 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm

OMG I am sooo doing this!! Time is certainly going to be an issue, BUT if I can earn a smart phone during November (agreement with my hubs, lol – lost some points by getting stitches in my thumb last night, oops!!) and just block out a little time each day, it’s SO doable!! I have a great ebook idea for my audience and I’ve just set it off to the side. Mostly because I hadn’t gotten my niche down pat, and I just crystallized my plan this week, so I am READY. Thank you!!!!! I’m sooo looking forward to this! 😀

October 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Best of luck, Rose! And with the smart-phone-earning too..!

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October 26, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I absolutely agree with this. Anyone can create a fully-functional and high quality e-book in a month. Everything you need is time and will. I especially like the part with a timer – absolutely one of the best tools for writers.

October 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Thanks Nadia! Yes, I’ve found timers hugely valuable … especially when I’m struggling to stay focused / motivated. It’s such a simple tip, but I guess the really effective ones often are. 🙂

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October 26, 2012 at 8:20 pm

I highly recommend using this time and the momentum of the writing buzz to write an ebook. A group of us are going to be posting each week and coordinating our efforts on the #30days hashtag. See details and feel free to follow along at http://www.angengland.com/write-an-ebook-in-30-days-nanowrimo-alternative/

October 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Getting together with a group is a brilliant idea (and I’ll be keeping an eye on the hashtag) — best of luck to you and everyone else involved, Angela!

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October 27, 2012 at 10:14 am

I’m going to follow ur November ebook guide to create my first book. I still have a few days to select my topic. One that deliverls or sways people’s desires to action!

October 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Good luck, Cathy! If you’re not yet decided on what to write about, I definitely recommend surveying your blog readers / Twitter followers / etc to see which topics they’d prefer.

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October 27, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Look at all these comments! I’m very appreciative for this kick in the pants. I want to write a simple ebook along the lines of, “30 Days of Kale Smoothie Recipes,” or something. I only have 12 recipes so far, but maybe I can pad it out. Maybe “Two Weeks of Kale Smoothie Recipes,” and “Why Kale Smoothies Make You Feel Great!”

Or something. All I know is I love making them, and showing people how to make them, and I figure that will somehow shine through in anything I write about them.

Only thing I can’t decide is whether to give it away for free – as email list incentive – or charge for it! Thanks again for the motivation!

October 29, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Thanks Paul! If you don’t have an email list incentive yet, I’d recommend going for that initially — my subscriber count rocketed after I introduced an incentive. You could also go for a shortish ebook that way (2 weeks of recipes sounds perfect) and then write a more detailed ebook once you see how that one goes down. 🙂

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October 28, 2012 at 6:03 am

Hi Ali, what a wonderful, high value post you have shared with us here!

The parts of your post that I like the most are the ones related to being productive and also being accountable to both yourself and your target audience in terms of really committing yourself to achieving your goals.

Personally, I can very passionately speak in favor of being productive as well as maintaining your focus on achieving your most important goals because one of the main reasons why I have wasted my last 7 and more years not being able to make money online and also not being able to live my life to the fullest is simply because I was paying my attention to the wrong things.

Having said that, I am glad to tell you that I have recently started my first blog ever in order to connect with my audience and write on topics that they are truly interested in based on some of the tips you have generously shared with us here.

Subsequently, having making my first sale of an ebook that would cost anywhere between $7 and $97 as my goal that I have also shared on the first post of my blog, I definitely look to invest part of the earned money in buying a countdown timer that will keep me even more focused as both an ebooks producer and an ambitious online entrepreneur.

Finally, any of your comments on my first ever post displayed on my first ever personal blog that I have recently created after a very painful, shocking and agonizing 7 year struggle of trying to make money online in order to reach and fully enjoy my ever desired dream lifestyle would be more than welcome and well appreciated.

Bruno Babic

October 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Thanks Bruno … and very best of luck with your blog and with your goal. For what it’s worth, I’d suggest shooting for the lower-priced end of the ebook market to begin with (think “sales funnel”) — so the $7 – $37 range. Hope it goes well!

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October 28, 2012 at 11:29 am

I’m late commenting, but that’s because I’ve been mulling this over. I’m going to do it. (Notice the high confidence level there, yes? Hahahahaha.)

My one practical (not motivational) concern is that some sections will necessitate research that will bog me down during the writing phase. It *seems* like research should happen during the 2-day outline phase..but that’s a pretty compressed schedule already. I think, though, that I’ll restrict it to the outline stage (since research is a temptation to not-write, at least for me, and I really do have a good grip on my subject already).

For what comes up during writing, I think I’m going to tackle this with your advice to “mark the place somehow” with the exact question that I would have gone to look up & keep plowing ahead.

Thanks for the advice and motivation!

October 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Karen, that is tough — and when I made the outline, I decided to work on the (probably slightly unfair!) assumption that people would generally be writing about topics that they wouldn’t need to research in too much depth. (I always try to choose ebook topics that I already know a lot about, because I get bored quickly with research…)

I think the “mark the place” technique should work well for you — get the first draft down, and do any bits of fact-checking etc once the writing is pretty much done. Best of luck!

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October 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Nice Strategy Ali, I write about blogging from last one and half year. Now I wanna publish my free ebook on wordpress customization and globalization. Now I am very motivated after reading this article. I’m happy to know, I can complete this dream in at-least 30-40 days. The most important part is “Start writing (Days 5–25)”. It need so much concentration and freshness also. Hope your strategy will also work for me.

October 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Thanks Priyank, glad this was motivating — and best of luck with your free ebook!

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October 28, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Hi all, Great idea – I’m in. I was invited by a friend to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, and accepted. However, since then, I have been really feeling that what I need to write is an eBook for my website, rather than fiction. I had just recently decided that was what I was going to do anyway – complete the task in the spirit if not the letter of the NaNoWriMo law. I like the public commitment and knowing that others are doing it too. Thanks – good luck everyone!

October 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Good luck with the ebook, Brent! There are plenty of NaNo “rebels” out there, so you’ll be far from the only NaNo-er doing non-fiction. Hope you have a great November. 🙂

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October 29, 2012 at 6:53 am

Great piece of advice. Nice Article. I was in a process for my first e-book and i found this article on the right time. You know what they say ‘if you are willing to do something and you are struggling for something, it starts coming near to you depending on the quality of your efforts.

October 29, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Thanks Hassann — and I’m so glad this was good timing for you. 🙂

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October 29, 2012 at 8:13 am

I have been toying with the idea for a couple of years now of just sitting myself down and getting started on a few topics I have in mind for E-Books. I had never thought about the 30 minute timer before, that is an excellent idea! Not to mention I have an extremely bad habit of editing what I write as I go rather than using the draft type style. You’re mention of the mindmapping technique did bring back memories from years ago. I believe I may just sit down and get started…Thanks!

October 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Thanks Brad — and good luck! The timer trick works well for an awful lot of writers, so I hope it helps you out too. 🙂

November 4, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Thanks Ali, It already has to be honest with more than just writing, after reading this I also implemented the timer practice in my web development too. I always have a number of projects going at once and would often get caught up in one and fall behind in the others, using the time I have been able to work for a set time on all of them and work on all of them throughout the day. Production is up! 🙂

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October 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I’ve been thinking I should get a paid product on my site for a while now, but have been pushing it to the back of my mind for “when I’ve got more time.” (Ha!) This sounds like exactly the kick in the pants I need to make this happen, now, because I will never “have more time,” but I COULD use some more passive income asap!

Look out in December for the first draft of “The Hustler’s Handbook: How to Stay Motivated, Stay Productive, and Stay Sane While Leading the Day Job/Dream Job Double Life.” (!!)

October 31, 2012 at 9:59 am

Have a great November, Cordelia — The Hustler’s Handbook sounds awesome. 🙂 And I’ve learnt (in both writing and life in general) that you often have to MAKE time rather than find it … sounds like you’re doing just that.

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October 29, 2012 at 4:19 pm

I wrote a short autobiography few years pass, protecting it and having it registered in the Library of Congress. I had been looking for a publisher, when an administrator of “togetherweserved” suggested that I should put it in ebook. I will have to re-write it to remove certain entries that will not take away any idea or points of information. My current concern is time and eyesight,one eye and it is currently stable but somewhat diminished. I have the cover of the publication fixed in my mind, to posittively wet the mental appetite of every reader. Although I am a combat veteran of Vietnam, (Southeast Asia 1966,7,8,9,’70 and ’71) It has very little to do with such, beginning before and continuing afterwards, even to the very moment I type these words.

October 31, 2012 at 10:01 am

Gene, best of luck with publishing your autobiography in ebook format — I’m sure you’ll find it rewarding.

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October 29, 2012 at 7:07 pm

I did write a short “how to” book (40-50 pages) many years ago and sold hard copies after advertising online. I am presently redoing the book as an Ebook for online sales and have been trying to figure the whole process out. Your information has been a big help. I am still going through your site and trying to implement the good suggestions. Thanks so much!

October 31, 2012 at 10:04 am

Thanks Fran, so glad this was helpful!

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October 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Hi Ali — I write a blog for an online company which sells home decorations which are mostly handmade, mostly in South East Asia. I have free rein for many of the posts and have enjoyed coming up with topics of interest to me. I am also an interior designer who works on multiple projects in my “day job.” I would love to run with some of the ideas from my blog and turn them into an e-book but the premise means that the content is would need to be very photo-heavy. I would definitely need time to create and photograph the content. A couple of questions: is this challenge still going to work? Is your “Dummy” book relevant to photo books / interior design books? What is your recommendation? Thanks for this inspiring-and-motivating idea.

October 31, 2012 at 10:08 am

Catherine, that sounds like a wonderfully exciting project!

Not being a photographer myself, I’m not sure how easy it’d be to keep to the timescale above if you need to create as well as photograph the content. I suspect you’d need to allow more time — perhaps 60 days rather than 30.

The Dummies book covers general fiction and non-fiction, but because of the graphical limitations of major e-readers like the Kindle, I don’t go into detail on including photos. There is one chapter on iBooks Author (which allows for much more visual content, creating an ebook that iPad users can buy) — but I’d suggest purchasing a dedicated book on iBooks Author if you choose to go down that route. There’s an “iBooks Author For Dummies” which might well suit you — http://www.dummies.com/store/product/iBooks-Author-For-Dummies.productCd-111837679X.html

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November 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Well this is timely because I’ve started writing my new eBook, “10-MInute B2B Marketing”. Looking forward to FINISHING it!

I’m writing the eBook as a series of blog posts at http://www.b2bmarketingportal.com so I can feel a sense of accomplishment instead of just having it on my hard drive 🙂

November 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

Best of luck, Jeff! I think serialising your ebook on your blog sounds like a great way to stay motivated. 🙂

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November 2, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Thanks so much Ali for doing this! I gave myself this goal for the month of October and it was an epic fail. I am definitely going to get it down this month!! May the games begin!

November 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Best of luck this time round, Monique! Hope your November goes brilliantly. 🙂

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November 3, 2012 at 8:09 am

OK! I make a public commitment to complete an eBook on Custom Club Fitting Facts based on my blog posts – by December 3!!

November 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Good for you, Tony! Hope it goes well. 🙂

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November 4, 2012 at 6:47 am

I am in the process of writing an ebook over energy niche. Thanks for step by step process in writing an ebook. Timely and very informative. Could you let me know how to market our self made ebooks?

November 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Thanks, Richard, glad this was helpful! For advice on marketing ebooks, you might take a look at Copyblogger’s “Tutorials” section (in the sidebar — you’ll have to go right back up to the top of the page from here!) The “Landing Pages” and “Email Marketing” tutorials should be a great place to start. 🙂

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November 7, 2012 at 5:59 am

The public commitment thing doesn’t work, it was scientifically proved that our brain feels like we are closer to the final goals if we brag about it to our fiends. I started writing an e-book with maths exercises but I am kinda lazy and I get distracted very easily. I think I will try the 30 days deadline, maybe I will be more motivated.

November 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Good luck, Thalinda! I think there’s a right way and a wrong way to do public commitment. For me, the right way is saying “I’m going to write my ebook draft this month” and perhaps “I’m going to write 1,000 words today” or similar on a regular basis. The wrong way is constantly talking about your project plans without actually committing to the action you’re going to take — that, for me, is where it becomes all too easy to talk without doing.

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November 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I’m just too happy to come across this wonderful article on how to write your first ebook in 30 days, it sound great, is just speak to me directly because I’m preparing to write my first ebook, I have made lot of researched on the topic I’m going to cover, and I’m filled with much information now but how to arrange it and make an outline is just the problem, looking for where to start and how to start it. But I’m glad today because I have found an article that answer my question on how to start. I hope I can still meet up with it at the end of November, I want my ebook to get published and I know that coming to here to read this article is not by my doing, it is just God that sent me here. Thanks very much Ali Luke

November 9, 2012 at 9:46 am

Thanks so much, Anthony! Very best of luck with your ebook — I’m so glad you found this article at the right time for you. If you’ve already done the research, I’m sure you can make really good progress before the end of November (even if you still need to do a little bit of editing or finishing off next month). 🙂

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November 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Reading this post i think that never ever give up .Write a good Quality post which will give you a best feedback like this post .

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January 1, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Thanks for these tips! I have been mulling over the idea of an ebook but not sure where to start and don’t want to waste my time. I think planning it out like this will make it much more possible.

January 3, 2013 at 11:56 am

Thanks, Vicki! And best of luck with your ebook — I think a good plan is always the best place to start. 🙂

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May 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm

I’ve come up with some good ideas for e-books over the years and for the first time, I’m taking action on my ideas and beginning to write. I was always a good writing in school and college and have always had good ideas. Writing an actual book, however, just seemed like a really intimidating task.

That being said, I’ve started writing and the ideas really flow onto paper at a fast rate if you are knowledgeable and passionate about your topic. I buy into the idea that you can write ebooks in 30 days and my experience has shown that to be entirely possible. Nice article, it was a good read.

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July 11, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Great post Ali. I’m already a professional writer (newspaper, magazines, website copy, etc.) and my real challenge is knowing what platform/format to use. Which e-book creation platforms or methods do you recommend?

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August 31, 2013 at 10:03 am

Thanks for the great advice – very motivating. I’m not quite ready to make the commitment in writing here and now…need a little more info. I’m a food blogger and my book will have lots of photographs as well as recipes that require specific formatting. Do you have any advice on what platform to use to create the book? Thanks, Lisa

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September 13, 2013 at 11:20 pm

What a great post! I am definetly going to be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, thanks to discovering it with this post. I have recently come up with an ebook idea, which has only been written about in two other ebooks. Do you think that this is probably an unpopular subject or an undiscovered niche by ebook writers? Are there any ways of going about finding this out?

September 17, 2013 at 9:24 am

If I were you, Andy, I’d see what other resources exist online: are there blogs, YouTube videos, or similar? It so, it might simply be that it’s a fairly untapped niche in ebooks.

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September 20, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Great blog! I am going to work on my e-book 🙂

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How to Write a Book in 30 Days PDF (That You Don’t Need!)

Sometimes, as a blogger, I gotta write posts because people are searching for it. And a lot of you folks are searching for how to write a book in 30 days PDF . Which, like, fine. Whatever. But let’s talk about why you don’t need that PDF and how you can get down to the business of writing that book without a PDF.

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products.

two hands holding a blank notebook and a pencil with the text "How to Write a Book in 30 Days PDF (That You Don't Need!)"

How to Write a Book in 30 Days PDF

Look. Okay. Here’s the thing.

Writing a book isn’t the hardest thing in the world. But it’s not the easiest. And if you’ve never sat down to write a whole-ass book, I’m not going to recommend that you try to write one in 30 days.

It takes stamina to sit down and write and stick with a project. Also, even if you love writing, it’s never as enticing as doing literally anything else. Just ask any writer who cleans their house when they’re on deadline.

Mopping is infinitely more satisfying than writing sometimes.

So, basically, what I’m saying is if you’re actually capable of writing in a book in 30 days, you probably don’t need a how to write a book in 30 days PDF. You already have a method.

You also don’t need anything in this list of things people Google when they quixotically decide they’re going to write a book super fast:

  • how to write a book in 30 days: worksheets
  • how to write a book PDF
  • how to write a book in 7 days
  • how to write a story PDF download
  • the complete handbook of novel writing PDF
  • book in a month worksheets PDF
  • writing and illustrating the graphic novel PDF
  • story genius PDF

So, instead of looking for PDFs to make the process of writing a book in 30 days easier, let’s talk about what you really need if you’re going to write fast.

Writing a Book in 30 Days is the Same as Writing a Book in a Year

I know that sounds weird, but it’s true. Your prep for the writing you’ll be doing is the same. The only difference is you’re going to write the book faster. So here’s what you need to do:

001: Have an idea.

This is obvious, but you have to know what your book is going to be about. You should also know the general tone you’re going for.

At this point, think big picture. Know your main characters. Know what they’re going to do. Know some scenes.

Then, when you’ve got that idea relatively solid, it’s time to outline.

002: Outline your idea.

I won’t say you need to know exactly what will be happening and when, but I will say you need to know the basic order of events. Sure, some stuff will get moved around, but you should know the big story beats.

I also recommend being as detailed as you can possibly be in the outline. So make it clear who will be in the scenes you’re outlining, and where the other characters will be. Keep the timeline clear to yourself.

The reasons for this are many. Basically, if you’re going to be writing a book in 30 days, you need to know as much as possible before you jump in. And while you’ll still be able to spontaneously come up with ideas as you’re writing, you don’t have time to come up with every little thing while you’re writing.

Outlining is for folks who want to write fast.

003: Schedule your writing time.

This is the hardest part. Seriously.

Block off the time you’ll be writing on your calendar. Pick a time and block it off, and don’t let anything come between you and the writing.

The only way to make consistent progress on your writing is to come back to it every single day. And the only way to make sure you can do that is to keep your writing time sacred.

004: Write your ass off.

When it’s time to write, you go. You go hard and fast.

If you’re taking a year to write a book, you can probably get away with writing anywhere from 300-1,000 words during your sessions. If you’re writing a book in 30 days, then you probably need to hit 2,000-3,000 words a day.

(Yes, I know the NaNoWriMo words per day is 1,667. But that’s for a 50,000 word novel, which is quite short and potentially unmarketable, depending on the genre you’re writing in.)

Remember, it’s much easier to edit a lot of words than it is to edit not enough words. So the more you get out during your writing sessions, the better.

Tools to Help you Write a Novel Fast

You don’t need a how to write a book in 30 days PDF. You need tools. Knowing how to write a novel in 30 days comes from knowing the tools that will get you there.

001: A Writing Sprint Timer

A writing sprint timer is a game changer. Whether you set the sprints for short bursts, or do full-on Pomodoros, having a writing sprint timer makes you write way more.

The idea is that you set the timer, and while it’s ticking, you write. No editing.

(I know you’ve heard me say write first, edit later .)

When the timer goes off, you can keep going. Or, you can take a break for five minutes, and then hop back into a sprint.

If you’re trying to write a book in 30 days, I recommend doing 4 sprints during your writing time, and those sprints should be around 20 to 25 minutes a piece. Everyone’s writing speed is different though, so pick a sprint time that works for you.

002: A Focus Vibe

I’ve written about Ambient Mixer before and how their environments are great for getting work done. I like them because they’re a mix of ambient, environmental sounds like rain or fire crackling or pages rustling. But there’s also some music in a lot of them too.

Recently, I started using Brain.FM and I really like it. I think it’s great for days when I need to make serious progress on client work. I love how Brain.FM has different options for the type of work you’re doing, whether it’s deep work, or if it’s more of a creative project.

Using either of these is a great way to tune out the world and focus on what you’re working on.

003: These Posts on Writing A Lot Fast

If you want to know how to write fast , you need to know about fast drafting .

If you want to know how to write 10,000 words a day , you need to know how to set the novel writing mood .

You need to know how to write a lot of words , and when you’re done, you need to know how to write more words .

But please understand that knowing is one thing, and actually being able to do it is another. So, even if you read this information, internalize it, and then attempt it, it’s going to take practice to write a lot fast.

004: The 90-Day Novel Planner

I designed this planner to help you outline your novel as well as track the writing process. Sure, it says 90 days on the cover, but writing a novel in 30 days is the same as writing it in any other time frame, only faster.

If you want to track your word count and keep all your outlines, story ideas, and book writing ephemera in one place, I recommend grabbing a copy.

005: The Pocket Word Count Tracker

If you’re going to write your ass off, you’re going to be doing writing sprints. And if you’re doing writing sprints, then you know you need to track your word count.

This little word count tracker is perfect for tracking all your writing sprints. Plus, it has 12 months worth of space to track your word count, so you could write 12 books in 30 days in the span of a year if you wanted to.

(Or you could write one book in a year like a normal person.)

Have You Ever Written a Book in 30 Days?

Do you like to write fast or do you prefer to take your time? What’s the fastest you’ve ever written a book before? Would you write a book faster than 30 days?

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How to write a book in 30 days: 8 key tips

Annual writing sprints like NaNoWriMo have many experienced and new authors alike testing their limits. Writing a book – a carefully, beautifully constructed book – does take time. Usually, much longer than 30 days. Yet trying this exercise is useful for building discipline, focus and just getting the first draft done. Here are 8 tips to help:

  • Post author By Jordan
  • 4 Comments on How to write a book in 30 days: 8 key tips

How to write a book in 30 days | Now Novel

Annual writing sprints like NaNoWriMo have many experienced and new authors alike testing their limits. Writing a book – a carefully, beautifully constructed book – does take time. Usually, much longer than 30 days. Yet trying this exercise is useful for building discipline, focus and just getting the first draft done . Here are 8 tips to help:

1: Set attainable goals

When someone asks ‘how do I write a book in x days?’ Writers’ reactions are sometimes discouraging. ‘Never write a book with a deadline as small as 30 days!’ Says one Quora user . Reasons you  shouldn’t  attempt to write a book in such a small time-frame include:

  • Being limited by time constraints could result in low quality writing
  • Producing a first draft may be possible within 30 days but you also need time to revise and edit
  • Burnout is possible if you don’t take sufficient breaks

These are all valid concerns. To work out it you can finish your novel in 30 days:

  • Calculate how many words you write per minute: Use a free words-per-minute checker such as Typing Speed Test .
  • Keeping in mind that you will also need to pause from time to time to think what happens next, halve your word count per minute. If you can type as fast as 60 wpm, take 30 as your base rate.
  • Work out how many words you write per hour: If you can write 30 per minute, you can write approximately 1800 words per hour (assuming you don’t stop to edit or rest). Factor in resting time for a more conservative estimate (e.g. 1000 words).
  • Work out how many hours you will have to write each day on average over the next 30. If you write 1000 words of draft per hour on a good day, an 80, 000 word novel should take 80 hours of writing to complete.
  • Eighty hours of writing over 30 days would mean spending an average of 2.6 hours of writing per day. This is a lot when you have other commitments.
  • Based on the amount of time you have available to write each day, adjust the length of your first draft until you have a word count you can achieve. You can always expand during subsequent drafts. Or write your first draft as a brief, novella version .

If this seems like an impossible task, give yourself more days. Or write some scenes in summary form. You can add connective tissue between plot events (such as scene transitions) later.

2: Set a realistic daily word count target

Many authors find as they learn how to write a book that realistic, attainable targets help immensely.

You might say to yourself ‘I can write for an hour each day, easily.’ The truth is that surprises, last minute obligations and life in general can hijack your writing time. For every hour of free time you have, bank on getting half an hour of that to write.

Start thinking about how you can make your word target attainable:

  • Cut down time taken up by other tasks: Make simpler, quicker meals, for example, and watch less TV – it’s only a temporary sacrifice)
  • Ask for help: Rally friends and family who are willing to help you chase your goal (for example, grandparents willing to babysit if you’re juggling telling your story with parenting)

Once you know exactly which hours you have free, block them out in a calendar. Use a colour that separates them clearly from other events and obligations. Draw an ‘X’ through each day once you’ve reached your word target. The satisfaction of this action (the sense of completion) will keep you motivated to continue.

3: Reserve time for each part of the writing process

The different parts of writing a novel require different types of problem-solving. Sketching characters, for example, is more imagination-dependent, while editing is a somewhat more rational (though still creative) process. [You can create full character profiles in preparation using the step-by-step prompts in Now Novel’s story dashboard.]

When seeing if you can learn how to write a book in 30 days, being structured is key.  Divide each writing session into different tasks . Complete different sections of outlining or drafting simultaneously. This keeps the process varied and diminishes chances of getting stuck.

If, for example, you prefer writing dialogue to introducing scenes and settings, leave your favourite part of the storytelling process for the end of each session. This makes your favourite part a reward that you work towards every time you sit down to write.

Writing a book in 30 days - Infographic | Now Novel

4: Maintain a motivating reward scheme

Create a reward scheme for yourself to keep yourself motivated. Big gyms and insurance policies take this approach to keeping members active. Because they understand motivation, how reward-driven we are . Maximize your commitment to your story (and your word count targets) by:

  • Scheduling short breaks as micro rewards for reaching small targets such as completing scenes
  • Scheduling greater ‘bonus’ rewards for milestone achievements such as completing chapters

Rewards don’t have to be expensive, overly indulgent or distracting. Take a walk somewhere inspiring or beautiful, read a few pages from a favourite book or grab a coffee with a close friend. Make your rewards relaxing activities that will help you return to the track renewed and focused.

One crucial piece of advice on how to write a book in 30 days:

5: Make it a game to avoid unnecessary pressure

If you’ve ever watched competitive reality TV, you might have seen cases where the most competitive and committed participant cracked early under pressure. Placing too much pressure on yourself is a fast track to burnout.

Instead, treat writing a book in 30 days as an impossible goal that you’ll see whether you can reach, playfully. It’s crucial that this time is fun and varied. Some ways to make it a game:

  • Enlist a friend to join in the challenge: You can have your own NaNoWriMo any time of year
  • Create engaging prompts for yourself: Instead of saying ‘In this scene, the villain will discover a secret that sets him back’, tell yourself ‘Imagine a villain has just been informed of a development that ruins his plans. What does he discover? How does he react? Write 500 words’
  • Find an inspiring picture via Google images that captures the mood or tone you want a scene to create:  Let images (or music) inspire you as you write

Try to write as freely as possible to maximize your speed:

Quote on writing - EB White | Now Novel

6: How to write a book in 30 days: ‘Write drunk’

The quote ‘Write drunk; edit sober’ is often attributed to Ernest Hemingway, though it’s not clear whether Hemingway actually said this . Regardless of who said it, the quote does say something true about writing. It’s not that you should write drunk literally. But you should give yourself the freedom to write with that same uncontrolled giddiness. Before you get to editing.

A big part of how to write a novel in 30 days is letting go of complete control. Let the sober editor in you control when the time comes for that. The writing part should involve as little critical interference as possible,  if you want to draft fast .

Some ways to ‘write drunk’:

  • Make the font colour of your word processor match the background . Only highlight and change the font colour back when you reach your target word count. This will prevent you from focusing too much on what you’ve just said as you can’t edit until you reach a point of pause.
  • Give yourself licence to be bad. Write terribly. Use clichés at every turn. Do this with the understanding that once you have the full draft and you’ve met your targets, you can go through and fix whatever you like.
  • Leap in anywhere: Just because your novel tells a linear story doesn’t mean you have to be linear in your approach. If you’ve written the start of a scene, skip to the ending if you have an idea where it will go. Put in simple notes for whatever you’ll add later.

On the subject of speeding up, use shorthand in places to keep up your momentum:

7: Cheat and use shorthand

If you’re trying to write a novel in 30 days, you’ll likely only have time to fill in essential details of character, setting and the most important events of a scene. To keep going at all costs:

  • Fill in names of characters, places and other nouns with generic words and agonize over the right choice later (e.g. ‘[Character Y: Add character name meaning stubborn/headstrong here]’)
  • Reduce connecting sequences to basic elements. Instead of describing in detail how the party escapes the collapsing building, write ‘[Party manages to escape collapsing building; minus characters X and Y’]
  • Keep filling in these blanks for moments when you are tired and you need a quick, small win

8: Remember that progress never counts as failure

What people don’t always tell you when you ask how to write a novel in 30 days is that the most important part of this challenge is committing to it and trying.

Determination and dedication will help you make progress. If, by the end of the 30 days, you don’t have a continuous, polished first draft, congratulate yourself for the progress you have made. You have a sturdy skeleton for a book you can turn into a better read.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo or simply trying to get through your draft, try to write an 800 word extract every day for a week in the note-keeping section on Now Novel . That’s 5600 words further if you succeed.

Related Posts:

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  • Tags how to write a book in 30 days

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Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

4 replies on “How to write a book in 30 days: 8 key tips”

I am so excited to use NaNoWriMo to finish my novel. I am about 60,000 words in and I stalled out when I got distracted by a different story idea. I am now returning to my original plot and I’m planning on finishing it by Novermber 30th!

I hope it’s coming along well, Jeffrey! Let us know how you did. Any progress is a win, truthfully 🙂

Hi Jeffrey, I hope your NaNo draft is coming along well! Please feel free to share any extracts you’d like constructive critique on within the members’ area when you’re done, I’m interested to read it.

[…] time to wallow in that dank swampland. Inspiration is for suckers — you have a word count to hit. If you’re really stuck, online writing prompts, plotting exercises and character interview worksheets can be a big help. […]

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Authority Self-Publishing

How To Write A Profitable, Life-Changing Self-Help Book

And the frustration of keeping that buried treasure to yourself is worse than the challenge of becoming an author .

You’re just not quite sure how to write a self-help book of your own.

But you’re ready to learn.

Writers and helping professionals often have a deep well of reflection and experience to draw from. And when we’ve benefited from books others have written, who can blame us for wanting to pay it forward?

There are thousands of readers who are hungry for the inspiration, motivation, and strategies you can offer them.

The self-improvement book industry is “an $800 million market that’s growing 6% per year,” according to Market Research.com .

I love this genre so much, I’ve authored over two dozen self-help books — several that were bestsellers, and one that became a Wall Street Journal Bestseller.

And the best way to get the same results with your book idea is to follow the steps laid out in this post.

  • How to Write a Self-Help Book

How Many Words are in a Self-Help Book?

How to structure a self-help book, 1. brainstorm your book idea., 2. outline your book., 3. start with a story., 4. have a conversation with your ideal reader., 5. brainstorm and choose a title and subtitle., 6. repeat to reinforce., 7. get permissions and cite your sources., 8. write your first draft., 9. get an editor., 10. revise your book., 11. find beta readers., 12. collect endorsements (and, if possible, a foreword)., 13. find a designer for your book’s interior., 14. find a cover designer., 15. publish your book..

Your book begins with an idea. Then, once you’ve decided to write a book about it, you need to get clear on the kind of book you’ll be writing and on the takeaways you want for your reader.

Writing a self-help book is writing for personal development — yours as well as your reader’s. It’s a unique genre in that, when done correctly, furthers your growth as well as that of the people for whom you write it.

All the more reason to choose this genre for your first book . But how big a project will this be? And how long will it take?

The average word count for a self-help book is 30,000 to 70,000 words . A 30,000 word book, after formatting for a 6″ by 9″ paperback , can run about 180 pages.

Some are shorter than 30,000 words, and some are longer than 70,000. Self-published titles tend to be shorter.

If you have any favorite self-help books, check their length , and ask yourself whether you thought they could have been shorter — or could have been improved with more content.

Your book will be long enough when it fulfills its purpose in as many words as you need (and no more), without sacrificing storytelling or helpful subtitles.

And its purpose should be clear from the words on the cover.

When you’re writing a self-help book, break your content down into the following steps to make it as clear and helpful as possible:

  • Define the problem. Make it absolutely clear what problem you’re addressing, why it matters, and why you felt called to write a book about it.
  • Give some history of the problem. Provide some helpful backstory to show the reader how the problem has developed, how it has affected others and how it continues to be an issue.
  • Share what the reader needs to know before addressing the problem. There are usually some caveats related to the problem and its resolution. Show the reader what they need to know in order to get the best results from your book.
  • Offer and describe an action plan. Here’s where you show your reader exactly what they could do to tackle the problem and improve their situation.

Here are some structural tips for keeping your reader engaged throughout your book:

Now that you have an idea of the kind of book you want to write and how to structure it, take the following steps to get your book from idea to publication day.

How to Write a Self-Help Book Step-by-Step

It’s one thing to have an idea. It’s another to take that idea and flesh it out so you know you’ll have enough content for a book.

Mind maps are useful for this stage, but so is simply making a list of the topics related to your book’s central problem, the myths or assumptions you want to counter, and the questions you want to answer.

In short, write down every point you want to make with your book. And make it clear.

Once you know all the points you want your book to make, it’s time to get organized.

An outline gives your book the structure it needs to flow and make sense. Writing from an outline helps you avoid straying from the points you want to make. It keeps you on task and makes it more likely that you’ll keep your book’s promise to your reader.

Essentially, you’re creating your book’s table of contents and then fleshing it out a bit.

What better way to lead your reader into your book than by telling a story that makes them feel understood or that gives them some insight into your book’s central problem?

Effective storytelling draws people in. Tell a good story, and your reader feels more invested in your book.

Stories take impersonal facts and humanize them, making it more likely that your reader will remember them and internalize your message.

Along with storytelling, you can engage your reader more effectively by addressing them with a conversational tone that is both friendly and respectful of your reader’s boundaries.

When you’re writing this book, pretend you’re having a conversation with someone who’s going through what you have. Be authentic as well as kind and considerate.

Put yourself in their place and use an approach that would make you want to trust the author .

Brainstorm a list of at least 20 titles . If possible, when you narrow down your choices to a top 3, get some feedback from readers in your target audience, as well as from people with experience crafting effective book titles.

Do the same for your book’s subtitle or tagline. The title and subtitle together should communicate your book’s promise to the reader with clarity and elegance.

Teachers have used repetition for centuries to help students remember the material — from Latin declensions to times tables and so on. And it never hurts to reinforce what your book is teaching by ending each chapter with a brief recap.

You can also ask related questions to get them thinking and tying the subject matter to their own experience.

Repeating the most important points throughout the book is another way you can use repetition to ensure your reader doesn’t lose the main benefits of reading your book.

Credit where credit is due. If you’re quoting published sources and you want to include a substantial piece of someone else’s content in your book, be sure to get their permission and to cite all your sources.

As for brief quotes from published sources, it’s usually enough to cite them. You can also provide a link on your book’s resource page to that author’s website or the sales page for the source you cited.

If you know roughly how long you want your book to be, and you have a fair idea of how many words you can write per day, you can set a deadline for finishing your first draft (total word count divided by daily word count plus a time cushion of a few days — because life happens).

Having a deadline can motivate you to do your daily writing, even on those days when you’re less inclined to sit down and do the work. And the sooner you finish that first draft , the sooner you can move on to the next step.

More Related Articles:

10 Simples Steps To Writing A Book (We’ve Sold One Million Copies Using These Steps)

How To Write Dialogue In Your Novel Or Short Story

How To Write Flash Fiction

That next step is finding a good editor for your book. If you can find one who specializes in self-help books or who at least has experience editing them, so much the better.

You’ll likely get better results from someone who at least reads self-self books and knows roughly what self-help readers expect. You want an editor who can tell you whether your book is delivering on its promises and whether it’s likely to hold a reader’s interest to the end.

Once your editor has worked their magic, it’s time to revise your book, which could involve substantial rewriting – all in the name of making your book something your readers won’t want to put down.

After you’ve done the work, your editor should be able to finish the job by copy-editing and proofreading your book.

Good beta readers, particularly those who have a genuine interest in your book, can tell you what they like and don’t like about your book. Those who are avid readers of self-help books will more easily spot the differences between your book and the ones they’ve read before.

Even if the feedback isn’t all positive, draw from it what you can use to make your book better. And don’t forget to reward your beta readers in some way.

Do what you can to collect endorsements from other self-help authors or from credible experts in your book’s subject matter. You can add these to your book’s sales page as well as to your paperback’s back cover.

Even your ebook can have a page or two dedicated to endorsements. If you can only get one or two, you can work them into your book’s description to put them front and center on the sales page.

If you can get a known authority to write a foreword for your book, even better.

Yes, if your budget is tight, you can certainly learn how to do basic formatting for your book. But if you can manage it, professional formatting will ensure that your book’s interior makes a good impression on your readers.

A formatter with experience in interior book design and an understanding of your genre can make your book’s interior look every bit as polished and pleasing to the eye as any traditionally published book.

Ultimately, that investment up front can have a huge impact on your book’s sales potential.

As with the previous step, it’s possible to learn how to design an appealing cover. But If you don’t have the time or inclination to learn how to design like a professional (and many authors do not), it’s best to pay someone who already can.

Nothing says you can’t learn how to design beautiful covers yourself. But for your first book (or your first self-help book), treat yourself to one designed by a recommended professional.

You’ve already spent weeks on your book’s content, doing what you do well. Why not leave the cover to someone who loves designing them as much as you love writing?

Once your book is written, edited, revised, formatted, and fitted with a beautiful cover, you’re ready to publish. Here’s where you’ll decide whether to work exclusively with Amazon (with KDP Select) or to “go wide.”

If you’re a first-time author, KDP Select is a great place to start. The more experience you have as an author launching and marketing your books, the more you’re likely to see an advantage in exploring other venues.

Now that you’re familiar with all the steps to becoming an author, where are you with your current work in progress (WIP)?

And what could you do today to get further along and closer to the big launch?

You’ll get there sooner if you have a daily writing habit. And the more you connect with other writers, the more motivated you’ll be to finish your book and get it out there.

When you’re ready for more, Authority Pub’s got you covered with helpful posts on publishing, launching, and marketing your book.

I can’t wait to see you share the news about the book you’re writing! And I’ll do everything I can from here to help you maximize your potential as an author.

May every day get you closer to a successful launch of your life-changing book.

Wanting to learn how to write a self-help book? If you're a writer, coach, therapist or other helping professional, learn the steps to write and publish a profitable book that inspires your readers to improve their lives.


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